Study Guide

Utopia Book 2, Introduction

By Thomas More

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Book 2, Introduction

The Discourse of Raphael Hythloday on the best state of a Commonwealth, Book Two: As Recounted by Thomas More, Citizen and Sheriff of London

  • The island of Utopia is kind of shaped like a crescent moon with two horns at the end that opens onto a large, peaceful bay. There's a big harbor on one side, so lots of ships sail from one end of the island to the other. There's one big rock right in the middle of the bay with a watchtower on top.
  • The entrance to the bay is a bit tricky, what with super shallow water on one side and super sharp rocks on the other. That means strange ships can't really come in unless they have some help from a Utopian pilot who knows the various landmarks.
  • In fact, if the Utopians wanted to totally destroy an enemy fleet, all they'd have to do is rearrange those landmarks. Sneaky.
  • On the other side of the island, it's mostly incredibly rocky, making it a natural defense against enemies.
  • Apparently, the island of Utopia wasn't always an island. Utopus, who conquered the country and made it into a beacon of intellect and culture, decided to also change how it looked. After conquering the locals, he formed a man-made channel to separate one area from the rest of the continent, transforming it into an island.
  • Utopus ordered not just the native people to help with this project, but had his own soldiers pitch in too; he actually didn't want to make the people he conquered feel any more put down.
  • With so many helpers, the work went pretty quickly and the neighboring countries were pretty intimidated.
  • Utopia has fifty-four cities and each one is pretty much exactly the same: all nice, same language, same habits, same laws—you get the idea. In fact, they're practically identical since they're all built on the same plan and they're spaced apart so that it's never any longer than a day's walk between each city.
  • Once every year, each city sends three of its best residents to the capital, Amaurot, to chat about official island business.
    Every city isn't just a city, but also includes a nice amount of farm land, which stays intact because Utopian city-dwellers aren't greedy for more land. Instead, they sprinkle the country with a small number of well-placed country-houses (no suburban developments on this island!).
  • Every country-house has at least forty workers, plus two slaves (yep, you read that right—slaves) as well as a master and mistress. There's also a kind of "community leader" who is in charge of thirty households.
  • The country and the city have a little exchange program going on, where twenty country-dwellers swap with twenty city-dwellers and each learn new skills. It's a good system because everyone gets exposure to different ways of living, but no one is stuck doing one thing unless they really like it.
  • Farm jobs include the usual farm stuff... except people are in charge of hatching chickens so the chicks get attached to their humans and follow them around (aww!). They raise just a few horses and some oxen, too. 
  • They don't make beer (unlike England!), only wine. And they always have a surplus of food. With the surplus, they make sure everyone gets what they need.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...