Thomas More, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Thomas Hobbes offer models for the relationship between the sovereign and the people in their works Utopia, The Discourses, and The Leviathan. Each argues that ensuring the common good of the people should be the primary goal of the sovereign. However, they differ in the specifics of their descriptions of this relationship and in their explanations of the sovereign’s motivation for valuing the prosperity of the people. An examination of the specified passages in each of these works will clarify the comparison of their models for this relationship.
More’s discussion of the sovereign occurs in the context of the discussion of a monarch as the trustee of the welfare of the people. The king is a common citizen who has been invested with the authority or "majesty" of sovereignty. He is then distinguished from the rest of the population by the responsibilities he has to them and the powers that are inherent in these responsibilities. He is bound to fulfill these responsibilities and not to abuse the privileges by the threat of rebellion from the poor and, therefore, discontented people that would result from incompetent or misused sovereignty.
He is also constrained by his own natural desire for prestige, and his prestige is dependent on his subjects’ wealth and well being. To desire this kind of prestige, he must be a virtuous man. Without this virtue, his vices of pride and laziness are likely to reduce him to taking his subjects’ property in order to serve his greed and to attempt their pacification by reducing them to abject poverty. If his own prid...
... middle of paper ...
...larly influenced by the monarch’s level of incompetence or corruption.
All three sovereigns rely upon "virtu," that is, effectiveness in ensuring the common good of their subjects; however, all three have different definitions of what constitutes "virtu." In More’s sovereignty, it is controlling human nature and channeling it into promoting the general prosperity. For Machiavelli’s sovereignty, it is the result of the pursuit of self-interested goals, both on the part of the ruler and the ruled. In Hobbes’ sovereignty, it is the logical result of fear and of human, peace seeking, nature.
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan, ed. Edwin Curley (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1994.
More, Thomas. Utopia. Trans. Clarence H. Miller. 2nd ed. Yale University Press. 2001
Walker, Leslie J. The Discourses of Niccolo Machiavelli Routledge, 2013
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- A man named Speaker of Nonsense will clearly be disadvantaged in any debate. What kind of information or argument can be expected of such an individual. Can he explain a rational idea or form a logical conclusion. Is the authority of his discourse trustworthy. Or is he just a man with name and nature in perfect harmony. These are all questions that Thomas More leaves us asking of Raphael Hythloday, the garrulous sailor-philosopher who describes and extols the society of Utopia. From his memories of a five-year stay on the island, Raphael conjures up a thorough depiction of the sociopolitical practices of the Utopian way of life, which he proclaims "the happiest basis for a civilized communit... [tags: More Utopia]
1422 words (4.1 pages)
- Saint Thomas More: Principles With In Utopia Utopia (published in 1516) attempts to offer a practical response to the crises of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by carefully defining an ideal republic. Utopia focuses on politics and social organization in stark detail. The books begin a conversation between Thomas More and Raphael (Hebrew for 'God has healed '). Raphael is a traveler who has seen much of the world yet is impressed by little of it. Even monsters are hardly worthy of concern.... [tags: Utopia, Thomas More, Utopia, Politics]
1278 words (3.7 pages)
- Sir Tomas More’s Utopia indirectly criticizes fifteen hundredth European catholic society of corruption, violence, poverty and of inequality. As a lord chancellor to Henry VIII, Thomas More was well aware of these problems and wrote a satire to propose his awareness in a carful manner, as we can see his hesitation to publish the book on his letter to Peter Giles especially when he described his “two minds” (More, 8). To criticize the problems of his times on a safe platform, he created a fictional character Raphael Hythloday, who is wise and knowledgeable of new places from the sailing experience with Amerigo Vespucci.... [tags: Utopia, Thomas More, Utopia, Dystopia]
1062 words (3 pages)
- In Sir Thomas More 's Utopia, he creates broad distinctions between the way that things were done in his homeland, and they way that they are done in his fictitious country of the same name. In his writing, he describes many aspects of Utopian life, from geography to clothing, all in his attempt to create the perfect society, one that does not, and could not, exist. More specifically, he attempts to eliminate the follies of European society in his descriptions of the Utopians, referencing their societal pillars of utility, uniformity, and humility.... [tags: Utopia, Thomas More, Utopia, Politics]
788 words (2.3 pages)
- Socialism and Thomas More's Utopia Socialist ideals have recurred throughout the history of literature; from Plato to Marx the elusive goal of a perfect state has occupied some of the best minds in political thought manifesting itself in literature. In the midst of this historic tradition is the Utopia of More, a work which links the utopias of the ancient with the utopias of the modern. Hythloday's fantasy island draws heavily on the Greek Republic and yet it influenced the revolutionary world of Marx.... [tags: More Utopia Essays]
2357 words (6.7 pages)
- A Deconstruction Reading of Thomas More's Utopia Thomas More's Utopia is the bastard child of European conventions and humanist ideals. Inspired by More's belief in the elevation of human manners, education, and morals, the text also concedes to the omnipresent traditions of European society. While More accepts parentage of the text, he distances himself from its radical notions and thinly veiled condemnation of Europe's establishment. Through the use of a benign narrator, Raphael Hythloday, and the assumption of a royalist persona by a character of his own name, More discloses the tale of the island of Utopia and its communist society.... [tags: Thomas More Utopia Essays]
1800 words (5.1 pages)
- Analysis of Thomas More's Utopia The historical Thomas More, the author of Utopia, was an extraordinarily complicated man who tied up all the threads of his life in his heroic death. The Utopia is the sort of complicated book that we should expect from so complicated a man. It is heavy with irony, but then irony was the experience of life in the Sixteenth Century. Everywhere--in church, government, society, and even scholarship--profession and practice stood separated by an abyss. The great difficulty of irony is that we cannot always be sure when the ironic writer or speaker is being serious and when he is being comical.... [tags: Thomas More Utopia Literature Essays]
5938 words (17 pages)
- Over the past few centuries the word "utopia" has developed a variety of meanings: a perfect state, paradise, heaven on earth, but the original definition of the word means something quite different. "Utopia", coined by Saint Thomas More in his famous work Utopia, written during the English Renaissance, literally means "nowhere". It is ironic that a word meaning nowhere has become a catchall phrase for paradise. More’s work is popular because of its wit, its use of metaphor, and its proposals for the perfect state.... [tags: Thomas More Utopia]
2630 words (7.5 pages)
- Thomas More's Utopia as a Social Model In his famous work Utopia, Sir Thomas More describes the society and culture of an imaginary island on which all social ills have been cured. As in Plato's Republic, a work from which More drew while writing Utopia, More's work presents his ideas through a dialogue between two characters, Raphael Hythloday and More himself. Hythloday is a fictional character who describes his recent voyage to the paradisal island of Utopia. Throughout the work, Hythloday describes the laws, customs, system of government, and way of life that exist in Utopia to an incredulous and somewhat condescending More.... [tags: Thomas More Utopia]
1248 words (3.6 pages)
- Utopia by Thomas More and The Prince by Machiavelli Thomas More’s Utopia and Machiavelli’s The Prince both concern themselves with the fundamental issues of how a society works and maintains itself. The goals behind the two works, however, differ considerably. The goal of Utopia is to illustrate the maintenance of an “ideal” society and the goal of The Prince is to instruct a prince, or ruler, on how to maintain his state. On the surface these two goals may seem similar but the difference lies in the way the authors handle the subject of power.... [tags: More Utopia Prince Machiavelli Essays]
816 words (2.3 pages)