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Utopia Case

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Thomas More was born in 1478 to an affluent family. He was one of Henry VIII's most trusted diplomats, and was part of the Humanist movement; which was formed on the belief that the individual was important in all aspects of life. Their main goal as a movement was to reform the English into liberal thinkers once again, and turned them into contributors to society. Most of the first Humanists were orators and poets, who moved on to become diplomats. Thomas More was the author of Utopia, a literary work describing the "ideal, perfect" society. His refusal to support and recognize both Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn, and the Act of Supremacy, were contributing factors to his beheading in 1535.

The English Reformation started mainly because of the revival of Humanism. Other factors were Henry VIII's unstable domestic life. Henry VIII believed that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was doomed from the start because he married his late brother's wife. The marriage had not produced a male heir, and the children Catherine bore were either still birthed or miscarried before she could deliver. He annulled the marriage to her and remarried to Anne Boleyn, after passing the Act of Succession. Henry had to make sure that Boleyn's children had legal claims to the throne. Henry VIII became head of the Catholic Church, which is where the disagreement occurred between him and More. More refused to acknowledge him as head of the Church. More's role in the reformation was one of a martyr. He refused to swear the oath to Henry VIII, therefore betraying the throne and the church. This was punishable by death.

Book I is the prelude to the actual island of Utopia. More took a trip to the city of Flanders. When he reached the city he met Raphael Hythloday, a Portuguese traveler, who while travelling with Amerigo Vespucci, befriended the natives in the New World. The Northern part of the land was not colonized and was full of wild life. The Southern part of the land was colonized. There were cities and humans that inhabited them. Here, Giles suggested that Hythloday becomes an advisor to a King. "I wonder, Raphael, how it comes that you enter into no King's service...you would not only entertain them very pleasantly, but be of great use to them... " (More 4). Hythloday declined the suggestion because he values his freedom and doesn't want part in the politics that comes along with the job.

At the time in Flanders, the legal practice was to hang thieves and murderers. Hythloday brought up the point that if the punishment was the same for murder and theft, people would be more inclined to kill each other, not saying that one crime is better to commit than the other. He suggests time in the Public Works System in lieu of the death penalty. He also suggests that the thief becomes in debt to the person that they stole from. More tries once again to persuade Hythloday into government, but Hythloday's response doesn't change and is a resounding no.

Book II is the book that describes Utopia in every aspect. Utopia is an island, with fifty-four cities, all sharing the same language, customs, institutions, laws, and layout. Each household is a unit that is easily governed. There is a wealth of fertile land, most of which are used to produce food. Each citizen works two years in the country (where the fertile land is located) and returns home. The homes have no locks, and there is absolutely no privacy on the island. Each household houses the family and extended family. The head of each household are the patriarch and matriarch of each family.

Utopians were trained to do work in the same field as their fathers. If a Utopian wanted to study another field, they would switch to the respective household. The youth of the population are seated with the elders at communal style meals, which discourages misbehavior. Each day, they work for six hours, sleep for eight hours, and have ten hours of leisure time. Their leisure time was usually spent doing something academic. Utopians selected their priests. The priests were chosen by early signs of high intellect. The population was always equally balanced. If there was an imbalance, then the people were shuffled around until the population became equalized again.

Utopians also believed that pleasure was of the mind and not the body. This pleasure was attained during the leisure time, which Utopians took to further educate themselves. Premarital sex was taboo, and if it was committed, there was a severe punishment and their right of marriage was taken away "unless they can obtain a special warrant from the Prince" (More 58). Women were married at eighteen years and men at twenty-two years of age. There was no divorce, unless the circumstances proved to be extremely



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