This sample essay on Thomas More Utopia offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion are provided below.
Utopia Utopia, written by Sir Thomas More, is a description of a seemingly perfect society in contrast to a time and place where the wealthy were extravagant and the poor were worse than poor. England, during More’s time, (which was 1478 to 1535) was a place where the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.
The Enclosure Movement that began to rise dramatically in the 1400’s under England’s first Tudor king, Henry VII, had created an enormous gap between the wealthy and the poor.
The vast majority of people were homeless and poverty stricken, because arable farming had decreased on huge amounts of traditional farm land and which was the only way of survival for the peasants. Vagabonds were imprisoned and thieves were hanged by the thousands. During the reign of Henry VIII, there were at least 72,000 thieves hanged (p.
15). The rich and powerful raised sheep, exported the wool for cash and became richer.
In Utopia, More depicted a clear epitome of this time and, indirectly criticized England’s socioeconomical policies through a character created in the book, while reflecting his own humanistic beliefs concerning those policies. More’s, Utopia, or “perfect society,” is actually a creation of totalitarianism. However, totalitarianism, according to life in England during the Henry VIII reign, for the poor, would have been a much better life instead of one where politics, religion, and greed actually reduced the less fortunate to less than slaves.
In Book I of Utopia, More described the consequences of the Enclosure Move-ment and England’s wars that created vagabonds and thieves. Speaking of the “nobility, gentry and holy men”(p. 18), More wrote that these social classes not only lived in “idleness and luxury while doing society no good”(p. 18), but, they also directly injured the peasants by enclosing land for pasture, thus, destroying homes and towns (p. 18). Furthermore, because of landowners’ greed, the former workers of the land had no where to go and became idle and were “jailed as idle vagrants” (p. 19). This enclosing has led to sharply rising food prices in many districts . . . so great numbers are forced from work to idle-ness,” wrote More. Vagrants were imprisoned, although, they were a creation of the rich and powerful, as were the soldiers who were disabled from England’s wars. Hunger stimulated thievery in the former farmers, as well as the disabled soldiers who went back home to an England that did not support their soldiers after fighting her wars. More wrote, “it would be much better to enable every man to earn his own living, instead of being driven to the awful necessity of stealing and then dying for it” (p. 16).
However, in Utopia, as More wrote, no one was hungry and everybody worked. Slothfulness was not tolerated and there was a job for everyone and everyone had to work. Agriculture was the primary occupation for need and not greed and men, as well as, women worked on the farms. Outside of the farm work, everyone learned a trade. Everyone only worked six hours a day, but because everyone had to work, their working hours provided “not only enough, but more than enough of the necessities and even conveniences of life”(p. 51). But, everyone was equal. There were no rich and poor and everyone all had the same food, clothing and housing.
Private property did not exist. Utopians believed that human life was more valuable than owning material possessions. Practicality and reasoning are fundamentals that More used in his description of Utopian society. Political, religious and social structures are all practical and have a reasoning that are best beneficial to all Utopians. In the political aspect, Utopia was democratic. Any rules or laws made were for the exclusive welfare of all Utopians. Money did not exist and therefore those in government positions could not maintain or acquire power from financial superiority.
Their constitution’s main goal was that “all citizens should be free to withdraw as much time as possible from the service of the body and devote themselves to the freedom and culture of the mind,” and this is where they thought the “happiness of life” existed (53). The Utopian religion that More depicted was tolerant. It was mandatory for the Utopians to accept three principles that included the belief that all human souls are immortal; humans are born for happiness by God’s grace; and, after death, there will be punishments or rewards according to vice or virtue (p. 6). One of the Utopians’ strictest rules was that no one should suffer concerning their religion and a person who fought about religion was deported or put into slavery (p. 94). Religion was based on reason and nature. “Virtue,” according to the Utopians, is defined “as living according to nature, “ and “when an individual obeys the dictates of reason in choosing one thing and avoiding another, he is following nature (p. 67). The Utopians believed it especially commendable and virtuous to help other beings in a humanistic manner than to take joy in others miseries (p. 7). The Utopian society that Thomas More created was seemingly a perfect society as an alternative to his sixteenth century world in England. Whether by nature or nurture that the Utopians would have become accustomed to the “totalitarian” ways of life, giving up their freedom for a guaranteed full stomach, a home and a life where pride and greed had no place to develop, would have been far better than the miseries of the homeless and poverty stricken in More’s real world.
More’s world, where politics and religion, intertwined with ambition and power, stimulated wealthy nobles and aristocracy no matter the miseries of those they used to acquire their wealth and power. Power, such as that sought by Henry VIII in his Act of Supremacy that More refused to agree to and cost him his head. Before his beheading, Sir Thomas More did create in his Utopia, a practical and reasonable society. A perfect one is questionable.
On one hand a communistic structure guaranteed that the Utopians would all be fed and have their needs, although, everyone was forced to work and would never acquire more than any other for their hard work. On the other hand, because education, religion, morals, private life and even pleasure was all controlled by the Utopian governing officials, the practical and reasonable society was a totalitarian society. The poor and miserable of England in the sixteenth century would probably have been better off in the Utopian world, although liberty was absent from the “perfect” society. I have read my paper and I did not cheat.