Utopia & Utopian Literature By Sir Thomas More Study Help Essay Questions

1. What was the date of publication of Utopia?

2. What explorations had created a new world picture in the quarter of a century prior to the composition of Utopia? How did those explorations affect the book?

3. Who was Erasmus and what was his connection with More?

4. Who was Peter Giles and what was his role in Utopia?

5. Who was Raphael Hythloday and what was his role in Utopia?

6. Who was Cardinal Morton and how did he figure in Utopia?

7. Cite several conditions, laws, and customs in England that were criticized by Hythloday.

8. Do you believe that More was in full agreement with those criticisms?

9. How did Hythloday represent the methods and attitudes of the inner circle of government officials?

10. What is your understanding of the geographical location of Utopia?

11. Point out several features or details that contribute to the effect of verisimilitude in the account of the island of Utopia. Cite specific figures and other details.

12. What are some features of the location and layout of the cities that exhibit careful, logical planning?

13. Explain the various communal aspects of the Utopian plan of society.

14. How did the Utopians use gold and silver? What were their reasons for that practice?

15. How do the Utopians treat fools (fools in the sense of Shakespeare's fools or clowns)?

16. Does the manner of dress among the Utopians appeal to you? What do you think caused More to propose such measures? Do you recall any precedents for that manner of dress?

17. What is the attitude of the Utopians toward the use of cosmetics?

18. What do you learn of family life in Utopia from a thorough examination of the work — of marriage, divorce, child-rearing, housing, meals, of authority and discipline, and of confession of sins?

19. There are certain works of utopian literature that dispense with marriage and family life. Name some and explain their practices.

20. Explain the principal features of the Utopian legal system. Do you think that More, a lawyer himself, meant to recommend the Utopian legal system in preference to the system then current in England?

21. How did the religious doctrines and practices of the Utopians differ from those of Roman Catholicism?

22. What was More's relation to the Protestant Reformation?

23. What was the date of Luther's Ninety-five Theses, which marked the outbreak of the Reformation?

24. Give an account in some detail of the Utopians' method of conducting warfare.

25. What features of Utopia reveal the spirit and substance of Renaissance humanism?

26. In what order were the different sections of the book written? Explain.

27. What events in More's career throw light on his book and influence its interpretation?

28. To what extent was More in agreement with the system of the Utopians as recommended by Hythloday? Break down your answer in order to deal with various topics separately.

29. Discuss what seem to you the pros and cons of life in the Utopian commonwealth.

30. Give a brief history of the utopian tradition in literature, naming authors and titles, indicating approximate dates, and noting distinguishing features of some of the more important documents.

31. Give an account of some of the living communities that were established on utopian principles — naming, locating, and describing a number of the prominent ones.

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