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Thomas More – Utopia Summary

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• Island is crescent shaped

• Always 200 miles wide but the tapers at the ends in to perfect half circles

• Interior side of the island is like a giant harbour

• Mouth of the harbour is full of rocks and shoals, making it incredibly dangerous

• Only the utopians know the way into the harbour, this prevents invasion

• Was once a peninsula but Uptos dug a channel and turned it in to an island

• There are fifty four big towns, all identical

• The towns are no more than a day’s walk from each other

• Aircastle is the capital

• At regular intervals are large houses for farming

• Everyone farms for a period of 2 years

• The grand plans of the towns are square

• The towns are surrounded by a high wall and then an empty moat

• Houses are separated by twenty-foot carriageway

• Behind the houses are large gardens

• Anyone can enter the houses, there are no locks

• Houses are swapped every ten years

• Houses are three storeys, made of hard stone

• The roofs are raised to the horizontal with concrete

• They use glass for the windows.

Social relations/arrangements in Utopia.
• Households are the smallest social unit – no less than ten adults and no more than sixteen.
• Households are governed by the oldest male.
• Wives are subordinate to their husbands, children to their parents and younger people generally to their elders. • When a girl marries she joins her husband’s household, whereas boys of each generation stay at home. • Each town consists of only six thousand households.Every town is divided into four districts of equal size. Each with its own shopping centre in the middle. • Everyone in the town assembles at lunch and dinner in the dining-hall. Children under five eat in the nursery. • The children that aren’t old enough to be married, wait at the dining-hall table. • The high or centre table is the place of honour, where the Styward or District Commander sits with his wife and two of the oldest residents. • The seating is always arranged in groups of four. Around the hall from eldest to youngest, so the eldest in the community get served first and the best food.

The Officials
• The population is divided into groups of 30 households, each of which elects an official called a Styward every year • Styward is the old Utopian title, the modern one being District Controller. For every 10 Stywards and the households they represent there is a Bencheater or Senior District Controller • Each town has 200 Stywards who are responsible for electing the mayor, done by a secret ballot • The Mayor remains in office for life, unless he is suspected of wanting to establish dictatorship • Every 3 days the Bencheaters have a meeting with the Mayor at which they discuss public affairs and settle any disputes

Utopian’s attitude towards gold and silver:

– Gold and silver are kept locked away in case of need for war, hence they are devalued so the public won’t want them. – Gold and silver are worthless to the people of Utopia and have no value. – Iron is more respected because it has uses that are significantly more useful to humans then gold and silver. – To devalue the gold and silver in the public’s eyes a system was devised so that they were used for normal day objects, to immobilize slaves and adorn wrong-doers.

Working Conditions:

– Everyone farms irrespective of sex

– Everyone is taught agriculture in school

– Besides farming, everyone is taught a special trade of their own

– Everyone learns either dressmaking or tailoring

– Brought u to your parents occupation, though it is possible to transfer or to learn two trades

– Nobody is allowed to sit around doing nothing

– 6 hour working day, 3 in the morning, 2 hour lunch break, and another 3 in the afternoon

– Everyone goes to bed at 8pm and sleeps for 8 hours

Only mayors, bencheaters, diplomats, priests, stywards and intelligentsians are exempt from work

Religious ideas
• several different religions on the island.
• all the different sects agree- there is on supreme being. • use the same utopian word to describe Him: Mythras.
• majority of the religions believe that there is a single divine power, they call this power “the Parent”. • they disagree about who Mythras is.
• one of the most ancient practices in Utopia is religious toleration. • people forbidden to believe that the soul dies within the body, and the universe functions aimlessly without any controlling providence. anyone who thinks differently has forfeited his right to be classified as an human being, but the level of an animal. • Utopians mourn an illness not a death.

• if unwilling to let go of life, this is considered a bad sign. and when they die the simply say”God have mercy on his soul, and forgive his weaknesses”, then they bury the body. • when they die in a cheerful and optimistic mood nobody mourns. they sing for joy at his funeral and commend his soul to God. they cremate his body and mark the spot by a column engraved with an epitah. • believe the dead mix freely with the living and observe. • dead regarded as gardian angels.

• no attention paid to omens, future tellers or any superstitious practices, these are treated as a joke. • great respect for miracles, seen as evidence to god’s presence and power. • Utopians are not interested in science.

• 13 priests per town. one per church.
• priests elected by community, election by secret ballot.
• priests give advice and warnings; responsible for education of children and adolescents. • male priests allowed to marry.
• women allowed to become priests, not often chosen and only elderly widows are eligible. • religious festivals on the first and last days of each month and also each year. • churches hold no visual representation of God.

• wives confess to husbands, children confess to mothers. • on entering the church, the men turn to the right the women turn to the left • never sacrifice animals
• offerings of incense, aromatic substances and candles • congregation wear white
• priests wear multi-coloured vest.
Philosophy of Utopia
• Utopians are unaware that there are other philosophers or philosophical ideas. They have their own philosophical views, some of which line up with other ideas known in Europe. They have produced entirely new theories which aren’t always consistent with one another.

• They have three types of good and many views on pleasure.

• They have hedonistic views and think they will be rewarded or punished in the next life for good or bad behaviour in this life.

• They believe pleasure is the natural object of all human efforts, but they make sure their pursuits of pleasure don’t deprive anyone else of theirs. But to deprive yourself of a pleasure in order to help someone attain theirs is an act of humanity well rewarded.

• They don’t respect someone because they have expensive clothes or jewellery. They don’t think finer clothes make a better person.

• Many things regarded as entertainment or pleasure in our society, they think have nothing to do with real pleasure and are just unnatural results of bad habits.

Delight For Learning
– No one’s allowed to become a full-time student in Utopia, except for the very few children from each town who possess unusual gifts, outstanding intelligence, and a special aptitude for academic research.

– Every child receives primary education, and most men and women go on educating themselves all their lives.

– Everything is spoken in their own language, as it has a rich vocabulary, is pleasant to listen to, and is extremely expressive.

– They have long experience recognising the signs of approaching rain, wind, and other changes in the weather.

– Many of their theories are different to ours, but often relate to those of our ancient philosophers.

– They have found scientific methods to improve the country’s environment. These include: uprooting forests and replanting them elsewhere, not to increase the yield, but to facilitate the transport of timber, by bringing it nearer to the sea, or to a river, or to a town – as it is hard to transport timber from longer distances.

– They became extraordinarily anxious to study the original texts of Greek literature and philosophy when it was presented to them.

– They are capable of learning letters and pronunciation of an entirely foreign language quickly. In less than three years they knew the language perfectly.

– They highly respect medical literature, even though they have little need for it.

– Upon being shown Greek literature, Utopians slowly discovered how to manufacture paper for printing literature. With this new invention they’ve published several thousand copies of Greek texts.

– During their export trade, they much prefer to deliver things themselves than have people come and fetch them, as this gives them more experience of the outside world, and more practice in navigation.

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