on,More tells us aboutthe flawless system of governing which he establishes. In his writings Morereflects the aspirations of a Renaissance man. This both caused him to beconsidered as the Socrates of Europe and to be executed in the face of hisdisobedience against the king. Ideas of Humanism and Reformation had foundrefuge in More’s mind. While carrying such qualities in theory,he was infact a staunch radical in real life. Although he had to at loggerheads withthe Church for his sympathy towards Reformation, he was against Reformationin religion and this prepared the way for his execution.
But the excellentmasterpiece Utopia clearly laid out these ideas of Renaissance andReformation. That is why More was a humanist and a Renaissance man and alsoa Reformist though he opposed against the application of Reformist ideas tothe Church. For this reason,we have to dwell upon these movements to see howMore sometimes contradicts the period. In fact,there is no way we can differRenaiisance and Reformation. These movements which arose with the interestin classical works in Italy contradict with the manners of the medievalCatholic Church;Medieval Christianity considered people to be naturalsinners,chivalric codes and heroic deeds were in the foreground,there wasno hope for salvation because only after death could man attain happinessfor which reason body as the source of sins had to be severelypunished.Order now
Catholic church was immersed in religious bigotry;renaisance andreformation fought to reverse this trend;people were naturally good,war wasuntowardly,perfection could be reached in an honest social structure,peoplecould reach happiness in this world and there was no actual need to punishthe body,there had to be religiou?s liberty. More had these ideas as aRenaissance man;he cared about human and nature. Even though he does not actlike that in real life,Utopia displays him like a genuine Reformist and heis amongst those humanist writers who are displeased with the corruptionsof the church. But,he was against reformation in that he saw the papacy as auniting power and thought that its fraction would cause instability.
In hisspeeches wiyh Hytholoday,he shows himself supporting unity in religion. Inthe period,the belief that drastic changes had to be made in the church wasgrowing strong. Reformation movement also was strengthened in England by thedivorce of Henry VIII and his proclaiming himself to be the head of theEnglish church. More was executed for opposing to accept the king as thehead of the church.
Thomas More,despite his inconsistent manners in reallife,criticises his own society in a srtict manner. And his spokesman is thecaptain Raphael who traveled with Vespuci. He tells us about Utopia and thethings which he tells us are the opposite of what was taking place in the16th century. In this context,we can say that More criticises his ownsociety in terms of religion,socisl life,law,education and economy. Middle Ages saw social and economic progress in waging wars;the kingsthought about nothing else but capturing new lands. They considered it fitto povertise the society for their own intersets.
Governors were on thewhole were corrupted and there was the belief that the king was therepresentative of God and that he had the right to do whatever heliked. They always looked to the past and never thought about futureitself. This radical stance of the kings and the rulers caused the public tobe oppressed and povertised both economically and socially. In the firstbook he gives voice to these corruptions through Raphael;”to start with, most kings are most interested in the science of war -whichI dont know anything about, and dont want to- than in useful peacetimetechniques.
They’re far more anxious, by hook or by crook, to acquire newkingdoms than to govern their existing ones properly. Besides, privycouncillors are either too wise to need, or too conceited to take advisefrom anyone else -though of course they’re always prepared to suck up tothe king’s special favourites by agreeing with the the silliest things theysay. “And”suppose, in such company, you suggest a policy that you have seen adoptedelsewhere, or for which you can quote a historical precedent, what willhappen? They will behave as though their professional reputations were atstake, and they’d look fools for the rest of their lives if they couldntraise some objection to your proposal. Failing all else, their last resortwill be: ‘this was good enough for our ancestors, and who are we toquestion their wisdom?’ Then they will settle back in their chairs, with anair of having said the last word on the subject – as if it would be a majordisaster for anyone to be caught being wiser than his ancestors!”What is more,More takes a stand against the engagement of people in acts ofwar in his second book. According to what Raphael says,Utopians hateviolence so much so that they get other people form other countries to killthe animals. They do not go to war unless it is inevitable and prefer tofight through reason and not using rude power.
He especially criticises hisown period in economical terms. Income injustice and the unequaldistribution of wealth and the occasion of a certain class grabbing a highportion of the national wealth while the common people are suffering fromhunger and the suppression of the peasants was a reality in 16th centuryengland. Raphael touches upon the harm which this system does to thesociety;”well, first of all there are lots of noblemen who live like droneson the labour of other people, in other words, of their tenants, and keepbleeding them white by constantly raising their rents. For that’s theironly idea of practical economy -otherwise they’d soon be ruined by theirextravagance.
“”. . . . . to put it more plainly, in those parts of the kingdom where thefinest, and so the most expensive wool is produced, the nobels andgentlemen, not to mention several saintly abbots, have grown dissatisfiedwith the income that their predecessors got out of their estates.
They areno longer content to lead lazy, comfortable lives, which do no good tosociety -they must actively do it harm, by enclosing all the land they canfor pasture, and leaving none for cultivation. They are even tearing downhouses and demolishing whole towns- except, of course, for the churches,which they preserve for use as sheepfold. As though they didnt waste enoughof your soil already on their coverts and game-preserves, these kind soulsstarted destroying all traces of human habitation, and turning every scrapof farmland into a wilderness. ‘so what happens?’ each greedy individualpreys on his native land like a malignant growth, absorbing field afterfield, and enclosing thousands of acres with a single fence. ”Whereas, the case is not the same in Utopia.
There is no sense of privateproperty in Utopia. Every one is able to use one another’s tools ifnecessary. Also,there is no such thing like money in Utopia. Everybody takeswhatever he likes from a shop as long as not too much. A Total of 54 citiesbarter the things which they need between themselves. To prevent the feelingof property,Utopians change houses every ten years casting theirlots.
Whereas,in his time,there was a sense of extreme property,egoism anddrive for material gain. Rulers were doing all they could to augment theirwealth and were exploiting the public. Also,at those times people caredabout precious materials and it had become almost an addiction to go toexotic countries and loot their resources. Whereas,the utopians looked atthese things as being low and base and put precious metals on criminals orgave them to the children to play. In this way,he criticises his own societyusing Raphael. And to avoid any punishment,he makes these accusationsthrough the voice of Raphael.
In his time laws were not justful and did notwork the way it had to;the laws were elaborate and complicated. Most of thetimes,these laws were being manipulated by the rulers for their owninterests and desires. Also,people who were stealing things for a loaf ofbread were being killed. This was a sort of injustice which arose from anunbalanced law system. In Utopia the case is the other way round;laws arenot complicated.
It is understood by everyone. No one is executed unlessascertained that he deserves it. No one resorts to stealing. Every one has ajob and no one think about having more.
Whereas,in England,the aristocracydid not have any occupation and most of the people were idlers with nocontribution to the society. So,most suffered from hunger. “you see how it is -wherever you are, you always have to work. There isnever any excuse for idleness. .
. . . .
. . . Under such a system, there is boundto be plenty of everything, and, as everything is divided equally among theentire population, there obviously cant be any poor people or beggars. Eachtown, you remember, sends three representatives to the annual Lietalk, toParliament, at Aircastle.
There they collect details of theyear’sproduction, and as soon as it’s clear which products are plentiful in eachareas, and which are in short supply, they arrange for a series oftransfers to equalizedistribution. “What is more,equal distribution of labor among the public enabled them tospare more time for activities like reading. As opposed to over-indulgencein luxury,every one in Utopia had his own moderate way of life and thuseveryone would find enough time for reading or artistic activities. Thus,notonly economically but also socially did he introduce changes. At thosetimes,academic knowledge was witihn the grasp of a few cluster ofpeople.
Whereas in Utopia education goes on for a life time and everyone isoffered an equal chance to improve himself. He does not criticise his owncentury only in terms of political or social corruption but also in termsof religious bigotry. Although religious narrow-mindedness was begining tofade away,the church was still against the reform movements. More seems tobe siding with the reformers in his Utopia. In 16th century europe,therewere huge religious conflicts. The need for reform was strongly felt.
Thosewho complained about the licentiousness of the priests wanted to go back tothe ancient simple principless of Christianity. The movement which began inthe form of a religioud reform was supported by the examining character ofRenaissance and looked for salvation in the past. These were the thingswhich More did not like about Christianity of the times;Christianity ispessimistic. Christianity has the underlying belief that the world is proneto evil and that it is naturally corrupt and thus has to beavoided.
Whereas,Utopians seek to enjoy life. Just like a Renaissanceman,they are optimistic and believe that good things also happen. TheChristianity thought that body had to suffer for the soul to reachsalvation in the hereafter. Although Catholicism banned divorce,Utopianswere allowed to divorce if either one of the couple sufffered from anyphysical harm or was fooled. The Utopians also favour the idea of letting aman kill himself to escape from his pains whereas Christianity forbadesuicide.
In a roundabout way,he also complains about the superfluous numbersof the priests. Also he introduces some new changes which may even amaze ustoday:1-Priest are elected by the vote of the public2-Priests are allowed to marry. 3-Old women may become priests. These ideas resemble much the principles which Luther tries to spread. InUtopia there was complete religious freedom. “when utopos heard how they’d behaved, he realized that this was why he ‘dbeen able to conquer the whole lot of them.
So immediately after hisvictory he made a law, by which everyone was free to practise what religionhe liked, and to try and convert other people to his own faith, provided hedid it quietly and politely, by rational argument. “While making such criticisms of the society,he does this in a way whichresembles socialism. His work Utopia contained elements of the threemovements which shaped the modern european world. More is righteouslyremembered for his work Utopia which we consider to be quite innovative andradical when we consider the age of conflics in which he was living.