Thomas More's Utopia Essay

1502 words - 6 pages

Throughout Thomas More's Utopia, he is able to successfully criticize many of the political, social, and economic ways of the time. His critique of feudalism and capitalism would eventually come back to haunt him, but would remain etched in stone forever. On July 6, 1535, by demand of King Henry VIII, More was beheaded for treason. His last words stood as his ultimate feeling about royalty in the 15th and 16th centuries, "The King's good servant, but God's first." Throughout his life, More spoke his beliefs about feudalism, capitalism, and his ideals of Utopia; More was a thinker, good friend of Erasmus, and although many critics take Utopia as a blueprint for society, in many instances he encourages thought, a critical part of the renaissance that does not necessarily conform to society's own beliefs.

Before any conclusions can be made about More's writings, one must know of his disagreements with both King Henry VII and Henry VIII, even following his faithfulness. More was a statesman, a scholar, a writer, and at one time, a Monk. Many of his ideals, including his socialistic ones followed behind Pythagoras, Plato, but a true influence in his life was Desiderius Erasmus. Beginning in 1499, Erasmus visited England, beginning a friendship and intellectual correspondence, translating Latin works, among other things. Erasmus' Praise of Folly, written in 1509 is dedicated to More. One of his first proposals in Parliament was to minimize appropriation for Henry VII; as one could understand, he did not take kindly to More's suggestion. More's father was imprisoned and later released after a fine was paid. Later, after Henry VIII had taken the crown and Thomas had become Speaker of the House of Commons, More, stood beside his beliefs again. He refused to approve of Henry VIII's divorce (Katherine of Aragon), and later marriage to Anne Boleyn, refusing to attend the coronation ceremony. Accused of involvement with others against the split from Rome, More was committed to the Tower of London, and later beheaded.

Throughout Utopia, Thomas More is able to cause many distractions to the reader while trying to determine what exactly More was trying to convey. Thomas is able to divide a short complex novel into two distinct parts with very different narrative perspectives. The first of these perspectives is Raphael Hythloday, considered to be a radical, `with utopian' ideals. The second character is Thomas More himself. Sir Thomas More did travel to Flanders on behalf of King Henry VII; however, Raphael Hythloday is only a piece of More's imagination. Soon after meeting Hythloday, we find out that he is a world traveler and philosopher. We learn of his voyages with Amerigo Vespucci, his voyage to Ceylon, Calcutta, back to Portugal, only observing social practices. At this point we read of More's infatuation with Hythloday's recollection of the island of Utopia. We then see More's criticism of society arise. When More and Giles...

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