Utopia as a Commentary on English Society

In Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, More creates a land that contrasts directly to 16th century Europe. More starts by using the stories of fictional character Raphael Nonsenso to directly criticize the European form of government. He also attacks the European philosophy in his description of the Utopian Commonwealth, which is designed to reflect the flaws of Europe. Although some concepts of More’s Utopia seem impracticable, the society he creates is viable because its laws counteract man’s inherent failures as a race. By abolishing currency, mandating education, and legislating two years of required agricultural work, Utopia manages to demolish corruption, eradicate social class structures, and guarantee a consistent sense of morality among its citizens.

More’s outlook on 16th century English society depicts an immoral world run by greed. Some of his criticisms bear more significance than others. Initially, More tells a fictional story of a dinner party attended by Raphael Nonsenso, a lawyer, a Cardinal, and a friar. The topic of capital punishment for thieves arises, and while many support this new decree, Raphael points out its flaws on secular and religious grounds. He proposes an alternate punishment for thieves: the return of...

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