Study Guide

Utopia Pride

By Thomas More


Now in a court composed of people who envy everyone else and admire only themselves, if a man should suggest something [...] the other courtiers would think their reputation for wisdom was endangered [...] unless they could find fault with his proposal. (1.14)

Apparently pride is not one of the seven habits of highly effective people. Right off the bat, we can tell it will get in the way for everyone, all the way up to the top dogs.

However abundant goods may be, when every man tries to get as much as he can for his own exclusive use, a handful of men end up sharing the whole pile, and the rest are left in poverty (1.39)

Surprise, surprise. Hythloday wants to make sure to connect pride and wealth. What features do we later see on the island of Utopia that might prevent wealth from creating pride?

For where money is the measure of everything, many vain, superfluous trades are bound to be carried on simply to satisfy luxury and licentiousness. (2.53)

Hythloday is really upping the stakes here. Now Pride isn't just a personal flaw, it's an economic issue. Who knew?

Fear of want, no doubt, makes every living creature greedy and avaricious, and man, besides, develops these qualities out of pride, which glories in putting down others by a superfluous display of possessions. But this sort of vice has no place in the Utopian way of life. (2.57)

How to be pride-free in five years or less: move to Utopia! But if you can't, does Hythloday offer any pragmatic suggestions? Or is he just spouting off unattainable ideals?

[The Utopian] elders introduce topics of conversation, which they try not to make gloomy or dull. They never monopolize the conversation with long monologues, but are ready to hear what the young men say. (2.59)

Pride seems to be totally absent from Utopian day-to-day practices. We can't help but point out the irony, though, of Hythloday discouraging anyone to give really, really long monologues. Ahem.

Isn't it the same kind of absurdity to be pleased by empty, ceremonial honors? What true or natural pleasure can you get from someone's bent knee or bared head? (2.72)

Hythloday is suggesting that the problem with pride is that it only seems to be enjoyable when, in reality, it's actually just empty.

And in fact I have no doubt that every man's perception of where his true interest lies [...] would long ago have brought the whole world to adopt Utopian laws, were it not for one single monster, the prime plague and begetter of all others—I mean Pride. (2.109)

Can we really boil down all of Europe's problems to this one quality? Hythloday seems to think so. Is that realistic?

Pride is a serpent from hell that twines itself around the hearts of men […] to hold them back from choosing a better way of life. (2.110)

What's the effect of making pride a force outside of human control? Why might Hythloday use this kind of language?

Pride is too deeply fixed in human nature to be easily plucked out. (2.110)

Hythloday has now switched from pride being external to pride being internal. Why would he change? Which does he believe?

But I saw Raphael was tired with talking, and I was not sure he could take contradiction in these matters, particularly when I recalled what he has said about certain counsellors who were afraid they might not appear knowing enough unless they found something to criticize in other men's ideas. (2.110)

It sounds a little bit like More suspects of Hythloday of being a touch proud himself. Are we supposed to feel the same way as readers?