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Analysis of Thomas More's Utopia

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"Utopia" Thomas More, the author of Utopia set out to create a subversive textual piece where he would be able to describe a 'perfect world' in which he would set a contrast against his own real and 'undesirable' society. Within the first book, More discusses the problems facing his contemporary European society; mentioning the violent nature of his people, the lack of fair ideals and that of punishments for crimes. It is not until the second book that More's didactic and entertaining approach becomes prevalent. Through the careful and witty use of second-hand narration to create the very foundations of his didactic-natured world, More has utilized irony, humour and satire as well as understatements and absurdity, situational paradoxes and juxtaposition. All of these techniques have been combined to achieve More's ultimate purpose; to create a "splendid little book, as entertaining as it is instructive". Intending to add realism to his book's nature, Thomas More included a "Utopian Alphabet" at the beginning of the book; aimed emphasizing the satirical aspect of his fictional world. A poetry extract: "Utopos ha Boccas peu la chama polta chamaan", showed how such a perfect world could have such a major flaw in linguistics; with it translating to "Utopos me General from not island made island" - bringing forth both a humorous and ironic undertone. ...read more.


This is directly associated with such instances regarding war as "They say it's a quite subhuman form of activity" - juxtaposed to "...they hardly ever go to war, except in self defence". The fact that the Utopians despise war (for its "sub-human nature) but would in fact still participate in it is absurd and shows both a satirical view of their hypocrisy and a reinforcement of the ironic nature of such a concept. Juxtaposition of the two ideals is effective at emphasizing the satirical absurdity of such a contradiction, or hypocrisy, where the reader can interpret the "entertaining" or humorous nature of a perfect society undermining its own "perfect" ideals. Furthermore, More contradicts himself again when he describes "...the working class foreigner..." as volunteering "...for slavery in Utopia" and reinforces that slaves are so well off, that they relish being prisoners to society. This is then directly juxtaposed to the next page where slavery is described as "...just as unpleasant...as capital punishment", contradicting More's previous information by suddenly undermining his own prior concept of the conditions of slavery. This portraying of Utopia as being impossible explains why many aspects within it have so many flaws and contradictions. ...read more.


Within a situational paradox, More describes a group of Flatulentine diplomats arriving in Utopia. They are "completed ignored" as the Utopians view their expensive attire as degrading and "fit for a slave or child!". This situational paradox is reinforced by "I say, Mother, just look at that great baby! Fancy wearing jewelry at his age!", which demonstrates the absurdity and impossible nature of such a situation. The opinion of the diplomats as being children can be seen as a subtle subversion unto the European culture of More's time and gold "being considered more valuable than human beings". However, that fact that such a perfect society could have no value for valuable items is a paradox, or contradiction of human nature; as realistically, this situation could never happen as the compelling nature of power almost always overcomes that of a mere idealistic value. The mere paradoxical nature of this instance can be viewed as both a humorous fault in More's ideals and a didactic feature of the book where the utopia's ideals are yet again undermined by real world facts. Thus, it can be rightly said that More has developed a "perfect" society with an incredible amount of flaws. Through the seemingly perfect ideals that More has put forth, contradictions have established a story, "...as entertaining as it is instructive". ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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