Summary and Analysis Book I: The Dialogue of Counsel: Opening of the Discussion



When Giles and More learn how many nations, primitive as well as civilized, Raphael Hythloday has visited, and recognize how seriously he has examined their several governments, they urge him to enter the council of some monarch in order to place his knowledge at the service of mankind. Hythloday declines and explains at length why he is unwilling to undertake such employment. At first he gives the impression that he is reluctant to give up his present easy way of living, free from responsibilities, but subsequently it becomes clear that he does not believe his counsel would be heeded or appreciated.


This section of Book I is treated in the form of a debate in which More and Giles argue that every man of wide experience and personal integrity has an obligation to play an active role in the service of his country and to attempt, to the fullest extent of his powers, to ameliorate the human condition. Hythloday's response takes up most of the remainder of Book I.

Hythloday's case constitutes a survey of, and an attack upon, the entire social and governmental system in Europe generally and in England most specifically.

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