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Utopian Thought: Political Perfection Built Upon Human Imperfection

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Vassar College

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  1. Introduction
  2. The character of Hythlodae
    1. Lazy and unproductive
    2. Hythlodae as a well dressed gentleman
  3. The moment Pines realizes his position
  4. The political significance of Neville's Isle of Pines
  5. William's father's reaction to his un Christian situation
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

Utopian fiction, a genre originated by Sir Thomas More in 1516, attempts to expound political theory under the guise of fiction. The narration of these works is essential to the communication of political ideas, as the integrity of the political information conveyed hinges on the actual characterization of the narrator. If the readers' chief communicant is unreliable, then the particular utopia's viability as political theory suffers. While a trustworthy liaison between the utopia and the reader might be useful, an imperfect narrator may actually better serve the reader.

[...] Any ?gorgeousness of apparel seemed shameful and reproachful (More, to the Utopians, because Utopus psychologically maneuvered his subjects to perceive jewels and gold as ?either the punishment of bondmen or the reproach of infamed persons or else trifles for young children to play withal More's implication of English excess is more apparent when the Utopian ideal is juxtaposed with Hythlodae's own excessive habits of travel and zealousness. The narrator's zealousness is indicated not by any one specific praise he gives Utopia, but rather by the lack of any critical suggestions of possible flaws which he might witness. [...]

[...] But he, knowing his crime to be so great as extended to the loss of life, fought to defend that by force which he has unlawfully committed, whereupon the whole island was in a great hurly-burly, they being two great potent factions, the bandying of which against each other threatened a general ruin to the whole state (207). The stability of the already weakly implemented political structure is shaken by this event, itself an expression of the natural sexual inclinations of man which George Pines, if he had any courage at all, would have codified into his society. Instead, his descendents went so far in their reaction to George's suggestions [...]

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