Essay on Thomas More's Utopia as a Social Model

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Thomas More's Utopia as a Social Model

In his famous work Utopia, Sir Thomas More describes the society and culture of an imaginary island on which all social ills have been cured. As in Plato's Republic, a work from which More drew while writing Utopia, More's work presents his ideas through a dialogue between two characters, Raphael Hythloday and More himself. Hythloday is a fictional character who describes his recent voyage to the paradisal island of Utopia. Throughout the work, Hythloday describes the laws, customs, system of government, and way of life that exist in Utopia to an incredulous and somewhat condescending More.

Throughout the work, Hythloday presents a society organized to overcome the flaws of human
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Gluttony is another deadly sin that Hythloday claims is easily overcome. According to him, the source of gluttony is fear of a future lack of something, especially a necessity of life such as food. As Hythloday explains to More,

For why would he be likely to seek too much, when he knows for certain that his needs will always be met? A man is made greedy and grasping either by the fear of need (a fear common to all creatures) or else (in man alone) by pride, which thinks it glorious to surpass others in superfluous show. This kind of vice has no place at all in the ways of Utopians. (More 59)

Others of the deadly sins are to be overcome, as are pride and gluttony, by encouraging the practice of their corresponding virtues. Sloth is to be overcome by requiring the practice of industry; covetousness by the practice of generosity (in addition to the abolition of private property); envy through respect; pride through humility; gluttony through modesty; and lechery through continence (the Utopians punished extra- or pre-marital sexual intercourse harshly). Wrath, which seems to be the lone exception, is to be treated not through the general practice of its corresponding virtue, peacemaking, but by removing the things that enrage people in the first place.

Like Plato, who wrote before
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