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Thomas More's Utopia: a Question of English Values

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As citizens of a society, we hold the ability to question, criticise and suggest alternative methods of governing to better the society and its individuals. Thomas More used this ability of critic in the creation of his book, Utopia, which acted as a social commentary on the failures of Tudor England and its rulers. 

Thomas More questions the ability of the distribution of wealth and influence in Tudor England. England suffered from a great disparity between the classes, both economically and socially, due to the Feudal System. More places emphasis on the profiting nature of landlords and its impact on the lower classed citizens, forcing them into thievery. More uses Raphael to further his critic, using irony to outline the unjust nature of the feudal system, “In other words, you create thieves, and then punish them for stealing!”. More places the cause of this corruption on those who power, referring to them as “a few greedy people”. This statement outlines More’s main criticism of the Feudal system, and it being individualist in nature, and the affect it has on the rest of society, for a small groups personal gain. More further critics the Feudal system outlining it serving only as a plutocracy. He does this by questioning the preference of sheep over men, “Sheep… these placid creatures, which used to require so little food, have now apparently developed a raging appetite, and turned into man-eaters.” He uses this reality to question the greed of man, placing the monopolisation of land over the well being of their other citizens as More points out “hundreds of farmers are evicted”. This reality adds to More’s critic of the “few greedy people” who only care about their economic gain over the well being of their fellow citizens, instead opting to punish them for their life choices, which was forced upon them. Book 2 allows More to offer an inverted reality, in which economic and social differences are erased, allowing for a more just system, in the eyes of More. In his “Utopia”, the population is made to feel as if it were “like one big household”, which juxtaposes the Feudal Systems’ individualist nature. Furthermore, More devalues rare metals, using them as “domestic equipment, such as chamber pots” and “they do everything to bring the metals into contempt”. The essence of More’s Utopia outline the consequences of the feudal system both economically and socially, providing a society that is beneficial collectively. 

In conclusion, written during the Renaissance, a period of elevated thought and societal progress, More questions the values of contemporary England and criticising it’s rulers, while providing solutions through his character, Raphael. Using veiled satire, More critics the economic power struggle created by the feudal system, the conflicting ethics of humans and the complications created by the monarchy, amongst other issues. Raphael Hythlodeus acts as More’s mouthpiece, challenging the values of Tudor England, while providing a different perspective from his “Utopia”.

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Thomas More’s Utopia: a Question of English Values. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from
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