Essay on The Rights of the Individual and Women Lost in Thomas More’s Utopia

Essay on The Rights of the Individual and Women Lost in Thomas More’s Utopia

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A person’s image of utopia varies depending on their individual life experiences and the expectations of the society in which they live; utopia could be described as an ideal place where equality, comfort, safety, compassion, and freedom are important qualities. In Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, the elimination of property and money has all citizens working for the commonwealth and it is “where every man has a right to everything, they all know that if care is taken to keep the public stores full, no private man can want anything; for among them there is no unequal distribution so that no man is poor, none in necessity; and though no man has anything, yet they are all rich” (More 81). More’s Utopia also encourages a balance of power within society; where an individual in a position of power is not “as idle as drones, that subsist on other men’s labour” (More 7) and where that individual gives “more regard to the riches of his country than to his own wealth” (More 21). Equality of basic needs, elimination of poverty, and balance of power within society are features of Utopia that appeal to both Renaissance and modern readers; however, modern society may find the manipulation of the individual for the good of the commonwealth and the negative attitude towards women to be dystopic features of Utopia that hinder it from being an ideal place.
Through expectations and restrictions individuals in Utopia are manipulated into pursuing a trade that benefits the commonwealth. This manipulation can be seen in how all Utopian lives, from childhood, are geared to agriculture. To be expected to follow one path would be dystopic to a modern reader who has many options open to them and they may find the lack of diversity monotonous. ...

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...t of the minds of their people all the seeds of both ambition and faction” (More 84), and “as men live happily under” (More 84) this form of government the happiness of women is not mentioned. The reoccurring negative attitude towards women also stands out for modern readers due to the increasing education and awareness of women’s rights since More wrote Utopia. Therefore, a Renaissance reader may be more receptive to Sir Thomas More’s Utopia because it is only somewhat different from the reality of that time. In the end, a modern reader may not be able to ignore the dystopic features of Utopia as they are more enlightened to the rights of the individual and of women and that may leave them to see More’s Utopia as only having the potential to be an ideal place.

Works Cited

More, Sir Thomas. Utopia. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1997. Print.

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