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_-Elements of Rhetoric - David-Glen Smith

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Utopia
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Original Latin title:DeOptimoReipublicaeStatudequenovainsulaUtopialibellusvereaureus,necminussalutarisquamfestivus,clarissimidisertissimiqueviriThomaeMoriinclytaecivitatisLondinensiscivis&Vicecomitis.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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In English,thesimplified title reads:The Best State of a Commonwealth and the New Island ofUtopiaAs translated by Richards, C. G.and Rev. EdwardSurz, S.J.,TheLongman Anthology:BritishLiterature, Fourth ed.,pp. 714-784. New York: Longman, 2010. Print.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Definition
Utopia—Thomas More created this word, derived from Greek. It roughly translates to “no place,” or “a land that does not exist.”In the common English language, “utopia” refers to a society of idealistic rationality. A “perfect” society or a location ofpeaceful rest and tranquility.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Intentions
There is much discussion over ThomasMore’sintentionswith this publication.The focus of many arguments centers on the basic understanding thatMore’slife contradicts the opinions presented in the book.•the bookUtopiacan be considered a pure fantasy—or—•pure social, political commentary—or—•in many regards, it is considered the perfectsatireof humansociety it predates many classic writings with similar intentionsmuch like Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal.”
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Similar Works
Jonathon SwiftGulliver’s TravelsGeorge Orwell1984AldousHuxleyBrave New WorldRussell HobanRiddleyWalkerUrsula K. LeGuinThe Dispossessed: An Ambiguous UtopiaRay BradburyFahrenheit 451Richard AdamsWatershipDownall of these writings in some form discuss how a society based on supposedutopian values becomes a dystopia; social commentaries
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Classifying the Work
Critics are divided how to label the piece due to the fact that the work appeared in the early Sixteenth Century, the era of Monarchs, a time without experiments on formation of different political societies.Further discussions result when one considersMore’sown political career as advisor to England’s Henry VIII, as Lord Chancellor, and lawyer.The criticisms embedded in the full bookUtopiaeven run counter toMore’sassumed values as a devout follower of the Catholic faith.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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As Satire
As a genre, satires run a wide spectrum of possibilities:pure fantasy, an allegoryused asbasic entertainmentpure allegory as political commentary,a political/philosophical discourse
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Background Common Points
Similarities can be seen in the strategy of the narrator and the manner the writing raises controversial topics.The full text utilizes a narrator who is a false copy of More.He records a past discussion from a record of only their memory, after an undisclosed time period; More does relate in non-specific terms that over a year has passed between the initial conversation with the fictional RaphaelHythlodaeusand the publication ofMore’sbook.The narrator apologizes for his memory skills and for possible flaws in his retelling the material, adding layers of irony to the piece.A slight blurring of fiction with reality is used in order to communicate his observations of human nature and human psychology.The text is organized as a frame narrative, a story within a story.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Background Common Points
The text is neatly divided into two sections: Book 1 and Book 2.Current Issuesprovides a portion from the second section.Both sections are shown through first person accounts of events.Book 1:Book 2:Primarily concerned with Primarily concerned withEnglish social order Utopian views of societythe character “More” narrates story the character RaphaelHythlodaeusand establishes political/social themes narrates his adventures in Utopia,in the full text discussing the community’s views of societyestablishes England and Europe’s offers a solution to class strugglessocial / class problems for comparison through example of island Utopia
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Background Common Points
Originally published in Latin by a Belgium press in 1516.More is approximately 38 years old.It was not printed in English until a four years after the death of Henry VIII.A Quick Time-line1492: Christopher Columbus lands in New World1516: First publication ofUtopiain Latin1535: Execution of More for treason, due to his refusal to acceptHenry VIII as Head of Church of England1547: Death of Henry VIII1551: First publication ofUtopiain English
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Characters
A majority of the figures in the book are based on historic people.Of the major actors in the story, only RaphaelHythlodaeusis fictional. His first name is Hebrew, meaning:God heals.His last name is based on Greek, translates to:speaker of nonsense.Peter Giles, who appears in Book 1, is based on a real, historical individual, a friend of More.By exchanging dialogue between these two principle characters andportraying himself as narrator, More subtly plays with various political and social ideas in a safer fashion.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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The Full Text’s Components
The introduction takes the form of a letter, written by Thomas More to Peter Giles.In this fashion, More prepares the reader for a direct approach on the topic.In a tongue-in-cheek approach, he apologizes for the flaws in the full text, showing mock humility.In this fashion he also establishes a background exposition for the reader, creating an atmosphere of factual recording.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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The Full Text’s Components
Further, to help separate fact from fiction, he conveniently recalls thatneither Giles nor himself askedHythlodaeuswhere Utopia is located.In this fashion, More establishes an elaborate fictional atmosphere.“We forgot to ask, and he forgot to say, in what part of thenew world Utopia lies. I am sorry that part was omitted, and I would bewilling to pay a considerable sum to purchase that information, partlybecause I am rather ashamed to be ignorant in what sea lies the islandof which I am saying so much, partly because there are several among us, and one in particular, a devout man and a theologian by profession, burning with an extraordinary desire to visit Utopia” (717).
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Utopia-Book 1
Near the end of this portion of the text,Hythlodaeusproposes a radical solution to Europe’s and England’s social problems.The character suggests that removal of private property and monies would alleviate English and European conflicts.Remember the proposalHythlodaeussuggests emerges from the earlySixteenth Century— a period in history where even a working notion ofDemocracy has not been achieved.It has been suggested that his proposal was the beginnings of Marxisttheories, centuries later.In Utopia, Book 1,Hythlodaeusbegins his argument: “wherever you have private property and all men measure all things by cash values, there it is scarcely possible for a commonwealth to have justice or prosperity—” (739).
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Utopia-Book 2
More, throughHythlodaeus, continues his secondary theme of the evils of idle behavior.By strategies of the Utopian society, “no one sit[s] idle” (746).Hythlodaeusoutlines the typical idlers in Europe as a contrast. Part of the vice of idleness includes: gambling, drinking, brothels, and “useless occupations” (748).The remainder of Book 2 shows through example how a society can reject idle lifestyles and attitudes.One primary precautionary measure which the Utopians have in place is the fact everyone, men and women, is trained immediately in the pursuit of farming. The society is based primarily as an agricultural culture.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Utopia-Book 2
Aside from this type of political commentary, the majority of this section of Utopia leans closer to fantasy.More creates elaborate details of the daily life of the average Utopian, discussing education, marriage and courtship, family relations, and housing.His concern at this stage is creating an elaborate background of his fictional society in order to show its function and mechanism through plot devices— and less about the contrasting politics between England and Utopia.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Utopia-Book 2
However,More’sfantasy soon changes in tone onceHythlodaeusacknowledges the existence of slaves.One of the first times they are mentioned is in the section “Social Relations” whereHythlodaeusdisplays how the food markets are maintained:“Outside the city are designated places where all gore and offal may be washed away in running water. From these places they transport the carcasses of the animals slaughtered and cleaned by the hands of slaves. They do not allow their citizens to accustom themselves to the butchering of animals” (750).
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Utopia-Book 2
Notice just after first establishing the “perfect” classless society, hethendiscloses a major flaw in their community.The existence of slaves in the plot causes the primaryfantasystructure to shift to an overtpolitical/social commentary.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Utopia-Book 2
Be sure to note that More is not an advocate of slavery.He is mentioning this practice as a common-place evil inthe world.During the early 1500s slavery as an institution had not yet reached a peak of inhumanity as the American slave trade industry during the early formation of the United States industry.Spanish conquistadors were only just beginning to import populations of African slaves rather than use Native Americans as a resource.In addition, England would not begin participating in the Transatlantic Slave Trade until the mid 1500s, a few decades afterMore’sexecution.At this stage in history, the common accepted belief was if a country conquered another country, the first country had “legal” right to do what they wished to the conquered. “To the victor goes the spoils.”
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Utopia-Book 2
In a later section of Book 2, “Slavery, [Etc],”Hythlodaeusdiscusses the issues of enslavement.• The opening paragraph goes into elaborate detail of the condition of these people.“Prisoners of war are not enslaved unless captured in wars fought by the Utopians themselves [...] Their slaves are either such or such as have been condemned to death elsewhere for some offense. The greater number are of this latter kind. They carry away many of them;sometimes they buy them cheaply;but often they ask for them and get them for nothing.These classes of slavesthey keep not only continually at work but also in chains” (my emphasis, 764).
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Utopia-Book 2
What was presented earlier in the text, how the society lacks a social hierarchy is now changed: this utopian society is based on a class system: Freeman and Slaves.As well, within the Slave category itself, an additional hierarchy is created:Acquired Foreign SlavesWilling SlavesCriminal Slaves
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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Utopia-Book 2
Utopia is then shown as a flawed and hypocritical country.• The notion of slaves or serfs defines an aspect of possession, even if the ownership is restricted to the government itself.• FromMore’sperspective, although he found a “moral” alternative for the slave trade by placing limits to its functions within a “classless” society— yet, he does this all in order to create an elaborate fantasy to show how an utopia actually cannot function without someone being taken advantage of.• Once you see this intended flaw in the story’s logic, then, the story cannot function as aformalsocial political commentary. Once the “perfect” classless society encourages slavery, then the political discourse falls apart in an obvious fashion due to the structure of the plot.• More furthers this by creating an elaborate allegory showing the slavesplaced in shackles and chains of gold.
English 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II || D. Glen Smith, instructor
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_-Elements of Rhetoric - David-Glen Smith