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Utopia
Utopia
by Thomas More

Utopia Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Exposition (Initial Situation)

Traveler meets Traveler

While traveling in Europe, Thomas More meets his old friend Peter Giles and makes a new friend, Raphael Hythloday. Since they all love chatting and sharing their experience, they decide to go and have a long chat. This set-up is pretty basic since Utopia isn't your typical story-driven book.

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

Philosophy vs. Politics: The Showdown

Even though our friends all thought they were on the same page—love traveling, love philosophy, love chit-chatting—it turns out that Hythloday doesn't believe that philosophy and politics mix. Even though this conflict is just a conversation, there are some pretty major ethical ideas at stake here.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

You've been where?

It turns out that Hythloday has lost his faith in European politics all because of this island he visited called Utopia. There, they do stuff right. More and Giles definitely want to hear more, so Hythloday tells them all about it. The fact that Hythloday has been to another country that operates so completely differently from the European countries that More and Giles know is what really gets their attention. It means that this discussion changes from being purely abstract to having some serious, real-world stakes; according to Hythloday, some people actually do live totally differently.

Falling Action

All about Utopia

Hythloday gives all the gritty details about the country of Utopia , barely stopping to interject his own opinion and without interruption from his listeners. Even though his narration seems totally lacking action, every observation he makes about Utopians customs, law, etc. is indirectly critiquing some pretty fundamental aspects of Europe and its identity.

Resolution (Denouement)

Until Next Time, Utopia

After giving the low-down on Utopia, Raphael insists that it's obviously the best country ever. Giles and More aren't so sure. They think that some aspects are good and others are totally wacky, but decide to wait until another day to chat further. This "resolution" to Utopia is famous for being so unresolved and leaving us with more questions rather than answers. Who are we supposed to agree with? What was this whole narrative about?

Next Page: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
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