Analysis of Thomas More's Utopia

Authors Avatar


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. The mere fact that the speech flow is truncated causes the General to sound like an uncivilized and uneducated individual, in what is seemingly a perfect society of both civilized persons and great minds (intelligentsia) – thus, the irony. This leads the reader to either find entertainment, or humour in it (as the translation would be found to be silly by uneducated readers), or take deep meaning in the ambiguous alphabet.

Join now!

To further add a sense of realism, the letter written by More that portrays one Gilles’ writing to Busleiden, is included at the beginning of the book. The amiable tone shown through the personal address of Gilles’ to Busleiden, “My dear Busleiden…” demonstrates the relationship between the two; as being friends. Within the letter is a recount of More being told the location of Utopia; but with someone coughing at exactly the right moment, “started coughing rather loudly…the rest of Raphael’s sentence was inaudible”, so that the location remained hidden. This emphasises that Utopia is an impossible, fictional place but ...

This is a preview of the whole essay