Caidyn – 3/5
Chantel – 2.5/5
In terms of the writing, Book 1 was a lot more interesting than Book 2. Book 1 was a discourse of what was wrong in typically monarchical Western civilization while Book 2 was a manifesto of what Utopia was like, from their legal system, or lack thereof, to their religion. As a book, it wasn’t terribly interesting, even if the ideas put forth were.
What Sir Thomas More had in mind, however, weren’t ideas that every one of his time would agree upon. In fact, they are closer to our modern ideas in a lot of ways. When reading this, one can see a very odd combination of socialism/egalitarianism, communism, and utilitarianism, all while keeping with traditional Christian ideas of brotherly love, the dangers of idleness, and how good works can help the whole society. These ideas don’t seem to come together. Communism called for the erasure of religion. Egalitarianism just isn’t inherent in how Christianity gets played out in reality, despite Christ’s teachings.
It’s not uncommon to read a book written a long time ago and find that things are similar to modern life. One thing in particular that stood out for me (Chantel) was the concept of slavery in Utopia, they weren’t people brought over from a foreign land against their will. No, they were people who’d committed crimes in Utopia. In a way, it’s not much different than our own prison systems. Is it humane to strip a criminal of their rights as opposed to an innocent person? Well, when things like adultery are severely punished according to the penal system, then maybe it’s not a perfect system. Just like our own system isn’t perfect.
When it comes to crime in Utopia, there’s definitely an undercurrent of strong Christian values which isn’t surprising. Sir Thomas More was incredibly religious and it shows. Things like premarital sex and adultery were the most shameful in the land of Utopia. From my (Caidyn’s) perspective, it seems that More says that Christianity is inherent to all people. At least, all “civilized” people. The Utopians are civilized, but around this time period, people were discovering new worlds full of people who had practices that were distinctly non-Christian.
There are many interesting ideas in this book that Sir Thomas More puts forth and ideas that I think are relevant even to this day. That’s incredibly progressive at the time he wrote this in the 16th Century. However, we all have our own vision of what a true utopia would be and this is just one man’s vision.