Summary and Analysis Book II: The Discourse on Utopia: The Cities



The plan of all of their cities is similar except for variations in topography; therefore, we can take the capital, Amaurot, as the model. It covers a piece of land 2 miles square on the bank of the Anider River, about 60 miles from the sea. The entire city is walled, and outside the wall is a deep, dry ditch filled with briars. The streets are 20 feet wide, convenient for carriages. Houses are of uniform design, solidly built, and three stories in height; and each has an enclosed garden in the rear for flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Those gardens are a source of particular pride to the tenants. Every ten years the residents change houses by lot.


The description of Amaurot demonstrates further the listing of details calculated to give the impression that the report comes from a man who has been there: The slope of the ground, the width of the river, the effect of the tides on the river, the location of the bridge, and its type of construction all convey an impression of actuality.

A city in which all of the residences are built according to one design may suggest to some modern readers a tiresome uniformity, but where equality of status is insisted upon, this arrangement is inevitable. More does suggest a possible variation in the materials of the facades, which could be of brick, stone, or mortar (stucco). The fact is that entire blocks of houses, even whole neighborhoods, in English cities often present such uniform faces as those described in Utopia.

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