Why Does Thomas More Present the Traveler as a Sensible Reformer Early in Book I, but Not Later?

Utopia, by Thomas More(1478–1535), is a satirical and political work, which is considered to be one of the earliest dystopian pieces ever written. Thomas More is a Catholic Saint, who was Lord Chancellor of England during his lifetime. The literary piece follows the character, Raphael, who is a traveler. Raphael during his journeys, observes the political and economic situations in each country. One country in particular that he journeyed to, called Utopia, was different from all the countries he had journeyed to. Utopia is a country that is free of greed and money; a country full of peace, and in Raphael’s perspective, ideal. Throughout this piece of literature, you see a transition in Raphael’s character, from a sensible reformer to a less reasonable reformer.

At the beginning of Utopia, Raphael states that he is against standing armies and unjust punishment(execution for thieves), which sounds reasonable enough. Further in the book Raphael’s character turns to a more radical note: do away with private property, no money, governments should do away with taverns and gamblings. All of these beliefs that Raphael held were influenced by the society of Utopia, which he saw as an ideal. Utopia is a society that most would not find ideal; it is a society where there are no personal careers, there are limits on the number of children a family could have, and everyone dresses in the same way. Which explains why More built Raphael’s character by first having the character introduce the more reasonable ideas, to give the reader a subtle taste of what to expect, so when the more radical ideas are being introduced the reader would not be completely scandalized.

The majority of literate people who read this literary piece during the 16th century, and the majority of people who read Utopia, throughout the centuries would not approve of the majority of the more radical ideas introduced in the book. This is unless those radical ideas were introduced in a slower manner: reasonable, less reasonable, somewhat unreasonable, and unreasonable, to ease the reader to those ideas. 

In Utopia, the reasoning behind why Thomas More presented Raphael the traveler as a sensible reformer early in the first book, but not later on in the book, is because the majority of the beliefs portrayed in the book would not be accepted by the majority. It was a tactic most likely to help draw readers in, by first presenting the ideas that Raphael believed that was more believable first, before introducing the ideas that would be considered to be more radical.

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