The utopian society in The Giver by Lois Lowry
The book The Giver is about a supposedly ideal society, however as the book continues it seems to be more of a dystopia with a totalitarian government. Everyday life is the same and almost never changes because the consequence is so severe, which could be public humiliation to releasing. In our Society you can do almost whatever you want within the law, as long as it’s not toxic to our community. In many ways The Giver’s society and our society are very different and the differences by far outweigh the similarities, similarities between Jonas’ community and our society demonstrate that we’re not completely different. We both have rules and leaders, however our society is so forgiving.
Here are some ways that Jonas’ community and our society are alike. One of the many ways is Jonas’ community is like our society is because we both have a lawmaking process which a group of people head. We also share the fact that we exclude the elderly from society; put them in nursing homes because they are a burden on us. We also share the fact that we both have certain rules that have to be followed with no exceptions. In both societies violence is not allowed. Another aspect we share in common with Jonas’ society that there are serious consequences for breaking rules such as releasing, jail time or hard labor.
Although there are many ways our society and Jonas’ community are the same. There are a lot more ways Jonas’ community and United States are different. One way is that our society you have a choice to work while in Jonas’s community you are given Assignments such as Caretaker of the Old, Receiver of Memory, and others. Also we have color and music while they don’t have these things because it would an abomination to have any type on uniqueness. In our society, we are a little bit more flexible with the rules which make it unlikely to get in trouble for an honest mistake, but you have to follow the rules strictly in Jonas’ community. You can get in trouble in Jonas’ society just for speaking incorrectly or not eating snacks at school right away. Also everything is paid by the government in turn food and transportation is free, in our society most things we get for “free” are paid taxes.
Honestly The Giver is trying to give the reader a sense of value, so that we should appreciate our life and freedom. It’s very important to remember how lucky we are, and that there is nothing more valuable than freedom. It is to our benefit that many things that you can’t do in The Giver’s society can be done in our society.
Is the Society of The Giver a Utopia?
Ever since the species of man has existed, men have looked for improved states of society. Searching for food, shelter, and safety have been major problems, even in today’s world: naturally, authors would write books about utopias that provide for the common needs of people and that ensure true social harmony. Lois Lowry’s book The Giver presents a controversial utopia. A utopia (defined by Oxford dictionary) is “an imaginary place in which the government, laws, and social conditions are perfect.” Perfect (also defined by Oxford dictionary) is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” The society created by Lois Lowry in The Giver is a utopia due to its government, laws, and social conditions being as good as it is possible to be.
Lowry’s society as presented in The Giver has a very efficient and stable government: the society has a committee that governs by coming to a consensus, and if the committee is backed up in a tight spot, they ask the Giver to solve a troubling issue/problem. Therefore, the committee doesn’t waste time in getting the issue solved. For example, when the community petitioned to be able to receive a third child, the committee asked The Giver to solve the problem. Lois Lowry writes “A lot of citizens petitioned the Committee of Elders… the strongest memory that came was hunger”(Lowry, 140), showing how The Giver showed the committee that they cannot change such rule. The government/committee shows efficiency through their cautious decisions that show care to the community’s welfare.
The government creates laws that people are willing to follow. Laws organize jobs that people would do well at, marriage partners that will get along, and pills that eliminate desire (which can lead to some form of disaster). Desire causes people to make wrong decisions, such as stealing, killing, and other illegal acts. Crimes like those can destroy and cause the society to fall apart. Jonas states “Two children – one male, one female – to each family unit. It was written very clearly in the rules”(Lowry, 11). The laws were well-designed to prevent trouble in the community to insure its stability and safety.
One of the major factors in this society that causes it to be a utopia is that it presents great social conditions. People living in the community are provided with food, water, and shelter (the basic needs of humans). There is no need to worry about poverty. Scientists developed ways to get rid of pain when physical accidents occur. People don’t need to worry about global warming, pollution, or threats from other animals. The creators of the community also cleared out a big obstacle, prejudice and discrimination. When The Giver and Jonas were talking about the community, they were talking about Sameness. Lois Lowry writes “ Today flesh is all the same” (Lowry, 94) showing how the society got rid of prejudice and discrimination by making everyone have the same skin tone. Everyone looks the same, everyone thinks the same, and everyone learns the same thing (up until the Ceremony of 12). Due to the society getting rid of prejudice, discrimination, pain, pollution, global warming, threats from other animals, hunger, dehydration, and homelessness causes the society to be a “perfect” place.
Critics might say this society is a dystopia because it takes away free will. People are not allowed to make decisions or have their own choices. Jonas argues “I want to wake up in the morning and decide things!”(Lowry, 123). He then realizes the issues that come with choices. The Giver states how decisions can not only change a person, but the community in a bad way. Jonas realizes how that free will can destroy the community when he says “We really have to protect people from wrong choices” (Lowry, 124). While free will may benefit people at times, the greater good is achieved by having a government requiring people to follows rules to maintain the utopia status.
The Giver society qualifies for a utopia due to how the society makes everyone so happy. The utopia has a stable government that solves issues efficiently, good laws that people like to follow, and social conditions that provide for everyone in the society. It is the “perfect” place to live, and seems very desirable. The Giver’s statement “Life here is so orderly … so painless. It’s what they’ve chosen,”(Lowry, 130) shows how the people are so happy because they don’t need to worry about challenges in the real world such as global warming. The society has perfected life in every way by removing the obstacles that people would fear. Now that such fears are gone, people may live a painless life in their utopia.
More Is Not Hythlodaeus: Utopia’s Early-Modern Enterprise of and Experiments with Individual Subject Formation
Thomas More’s Utopia involves circumlocutory ways of distanciating the author’s self from Hythlodaeus’s delineation of the exemplary city. More wanted not only to obfuscate his agency as the author, but also lend a unique credibility to the conceptual hypothesis that he sought to fabricate. By endowing his “philosophical city” with the semblance of reality, he caused his readers to see the mechanism in operation by means of a feigned description, which is also the essential feature of the utopian genre (Frye 31). Symptomatic of the renaissance anxiety about the constant entanglement of the ideas of dissidence, privacy, guilt and anti-state practices, More’s Utopia does not ascribe any private space to its inhabitants. Consequently, “[T]here are . . . no opportunities for seduction, no secret meeting-places . . . [E]veryone has his eye on you, so you’re practically forced to get on with your job, and make some proper use of your spare time” (More 65). Ironically, More too is painfully aware of such eyes on himself and as a consequence, the pretence of second-hand reporting can indeed be construed as a protective technique that More avails himself of (Turner xiv). The paradox of this situation can best be identified by locating how More himself paid with his own life for the degree of surveillance that haunted Renaissance England, where even his silence on the issue of Henry VIII assuming the position of supreme head of the Church was treachery enough to be awarded a death sentence. More’s Utopia, and the Utopian thought in general, have had far-reaching cultural impact in context with the emergence of the modern socio-political conditions of subject formation.
Catholics and communists have both indulged in what Paul Turner calls “a critical tug of love” (xi), in an attempt to valorize their own ideologies by borrowing More’s authority. Such an approach only betrays a partial understanding of the utopian tradition in which the work belongs, precisely because it construes the author’s intention as producing, as it were, “a blueprint of the society at which we aim” (Popper 157). As Lyman Sergent pertinently remarks: “few utopias were written with the intent of implementing them in detail, and the history of political thought does not offer blueprints for building new societies” (570). Undoubtedly, utopian literature, when viewed as social or political theory, creates a conflict between an artist’s intent and the extent to which he chooses (or maybe, is forced) to showcase himself under the reader’s scrutiny. The way More as an author tries to unauthorise his text, can not only deceive some “fathead who said he did not see why More should be so much admired for his Utopia, since all he did was write down what somebody else had told him” (Turner xiv), but also should keep the intelligent reader on guard regarding the “reality” he plays around with. More’s success in shaping an almost a proto-postmodern ethos banks partly on his pioneering ability to introduce this element of “play” in his text, the element of ambiguity that locates as well as dislocates reality through the simultaneous interplay of presence and absence. The reader can readily locate the socio-political evils that Hythlodaeus talks about, but being unable to contextualize them except as veiled references farther veiled by the interventions of the dramatic persona of the author himself from within the text, he perceives the reality as confused and dislocated.
Utopia‘s relevance today cannot be appreciated if we try to put it in the straitjackets of either communism or Catholicism, but taken as a spontaneous overflow of intellectual high spirits, a revel of debate, paradox, comedy and above all of invention which starts many hares but kills none (Rengasamy xxxii), the text remains one fraught with complexities of consciousness resonating with the modern concerns of privacy, family, utility, religion and identity. The appearance and disappearance of frontiers and mushrooming of various ideological boundaries have not stopped in our time, and “it is precisely at this moment, while new, or very old and frightening, frontiers appear or reappear, those of nationalistic, racial or religious exclusions — precisely at this moment that it is worth recalling the fiction of an island that appeared at the dawn of a period for which our present time would form the twilight” (Marin 11). Furthermore, one can argue that the utilitarianism of the utopians that issues from their notion of mercy and kindness has much in common with what Charles Taylor calls “modern utilitarianism” as a secularized variant of Christian spirituality (13). The very initiation of Hythlodaeus’s arguments marks the cruelty and impudence behind capital punishment of thieves prevalent in the then England. Strikingly, his arguments combine compassion with prudence as he tries to demonstrate how widespread poverty should be addressed first instead of punishing the thief who mostly steals out of want and scarcity of basic amenities of life resulting from under-utilization of human labour and natural resources.
More’s veiled reformist spiritual zeal comes to us filtered through Hythlodaeus’s tale of the utilitarianism of the non-Christian Utopians that can be paralleled with the “thrust of the utilitarian Englightenment, protesting against the needless, senseless suffering inflicted on humans in the name of . . . orders” (Taylor 13). Locating and recognizing the individual subject as a product of the social conditions is one major point of thrust in Hythlodaeus’s argument. As Habermas has noted, More’s ideal city shares one major feature of Machiavelli’s proposals in The Prince (1513) — namely, we must first establish the social conditions wherein the individual subjects may realize their human potential and moral ideals. He says: “virtue and happiness as such are here [in Utopia] conceived in the traditional manner; but what is modern is the thesis that the technically appropriate organization to meet the necessities of life, the correct institutional reproduction of society, is prior to the good life, without these in themselves representing the content and the goal of moral action” (Habermas 54).The process of employing the “correct institutions” in Utopia — which includes abolition of private property, the source of power and privileges through accumulation of wealth — however, signals an opposite hypothesis of The Prince, namely, a movement toward the removal (rather than the strengthening) of the social domination of the few over the many (Dupr? 151). By emphasizing the dependence of the individual’s actions on the social system that s/he constitutes, Hythlodaeus almost anticipates a poststructuralist concern that seeks to contend that subjects are not the autonomous creators of themselves or their social worlds; rather, subjects are embedded in a complex network of social relations (Namaste 221). The specific social and cultural logic — the key to subject formation — leads uncannily to ways in which subjectivities are at once framed and concealed.
We can move onto locating these features at the textual level. More’s borrowings from Plato’s Republic while shaping his Utopia have long been critically commented on. In addition to the similarities that the two share, also interesting in this context are the ways of More’s conscious departure from Plato’s ideal. The heteropatriarchal family in utopia is central to its functional modus operandi, quite unlike in Plato’s republic where marriages are controlled by the government and one woman can be married to many men. Marriage to the Utopians appear to be an individual decision to the extent that the otherwise idiosyncratic practice in which both the man and the woman are allowed to see each other completely naked before agreeing to marry is seen as hardly ridiculous. The attitude of the Utopians to the power dynamics at work within the familial domain seems also to humourously reflect More’s own family (Rengasammy xxvi). However crude dictums like “husbands are responsible for punishing their wives” (More 85) or the custom whereby wives are required to kneel down before their husbands every month and ask for forgiveness (without any mention of the same to be done by the husbands too) in order to maintain domestic peace appear, the family is still the coherent unit which elects the syphogrants of the administrative structure. The governors are not elected by popular vote but by these syphogrants elected first by the families. It remains an open question whether every adult member of the family votes or whether the choice is made only, for example, by the head of the family, though perhaps in consultation with other members of the family (Steintrager 363). Prevention of pre-marital sexual intercourse is given extreme importance by the utopians by putting into effect stringent laws against it. However, instead of defending such laws on grounds of preserving marital sanctity, an almost scandalous argument (especially to Catholics) is presented as defence. It is said that they are particularly strict about these rules “because they think very few people would want to get married — which means spending one’s whole life with the same person, and putting up with all the inconveniences this involves — if they weren’t carefully prevented from having any sexual intercourse otherwise” (More 83-4). This statement takes for granted the intrinsic hedonistic bent of mind of the common man, inclined more to pleasures than principles. The sensual aspect of the human mind is foregrounded by the assumption that going by natural logic, sexual gratification can become preferable to the “inconveniences” of marital companionship.
It is important to note where this logic leads. Their “natural” religion is inextricably linked to “[T]he principles of natural theology … necessary for the support of morality” (Steintrager 370). As Steintrager notes, Utopian morality is more hedonistic than the morality of the Republic and for the ordinary Utopian, the check on excessive pursuit of pleasure is religion (371). The historical moment at which More was negotiating with Plato’s past ideal had much impact on the ideas that he explored in Utopia, if not unambiguously advocated. At a time when privacy was being freely associated with secrecy and seditious thoughts, the essence of Utopian privacy survives only in marital sexuality and the individual’s option to choose a partner and even divorce with him/her on mutual consent. Real pleasures, being divided “into two categories, mental and physical,” includes “sexual intercourse, or any relief of irritation by rubbing or scratching” (More 76-7). The only limiting factor that defines immorality is simply categorized as “pain,” as “pleasure mustn’t cause pain — which they think is bound to happen, if the pleasure is immoral” (More 79). What comes forward as a pervasive principle in such arguments is the immediate corporeality of pain and pleasure of the individual subject as a direct quotient of privately felt sense perceptions that would later become major instruments in purveying knowledge and truth for Montaigne. Though for Descartes and his legacy the thrust shifts on to abstract reason alone, modern times have seen a reclamation of the individual’s sensory experience as having as much relevance as abstract reasoning. Such dialectical ways of preserving the privacy of pleasure and banning it when it veers towards “pain” form a key to the formation of the Utopian subject.
More’s fictionalized narrator Hythlodaeus is also, first and foremost, a traveller, reportedly returning from a voyage in the New World as part of Amerigo Vespucci’s expedition; and although he avows to “describe their [Utopians’] life, not defend it” (More 79), he appears particularly anxious in many cases to do exactly that. It is intriguing to conceptualize — when “Hythlodaeus means ‘dispenser of non-sense,’ Utopia means ‘not place,’ Anydrus (the name of a river) means ‘not water,’ and Ademus (the title of a chief magistrate) means ‘not people’” (Turner xii) — what is the cultural valence of More’s ironic take on early-modern travel narratives, and what are its relations to an individual’s private agency to imagine and reorder reality through stories of travel and spatial displacement. To quote Louis Marin: “any travel is, first of all, a moment and a space of vacancy, an unencumbered space which suspends continuous time and the ordering loci” (14). The island of Utopia is almost a spatial escape from subjecthood, an exploration that at once hoaxes early-modern travel narratives and uses them as a cover up for filtering out contemporary reality. The flux that lies at the heart of this early-modern enterprise is one that emblematizes displacement of meaning at multiple levels: “displaced letters, displaced names (displacing their significations) — a displaced map displacing all maps and really finding none — Utopia as process is the figure of all kinds of frontiers, displacing, by the practice of its travels, all representations, secretly duplicating any kind of real geographical voyage and any kind of historical and temporal change” (Marin 16). The ultimate fictive nature of the text exposes the fiction of the self created through travel narratives — which always formed an integral part of the individual subject formation — whenever it sought to claim its selfhood by describing and inventing geographically disparate Others. It is not without a reason that the ideas that Hythlodaeus advocates in a half-polemical, half-prophetic voice arguably surpass in conviction anything that More produced elsewhere. More’s diplomatic office as a Renaissance humanist ambassador per excellence situated him in a complex cultural melting pot where his profession was a constant balancing act between stasis and flux, between “private philosophical meditation with public oratory and involvement in the civic world of politics and diplomacy” (Brotton 56), and what he offers in Utopia can be seen more as a rhetorical exploration of an escape route from his own subjectivity and also from the emerging bourgeois ethos, than anything else. As More himself speaks in different voices by introducing real-life characters like John Morton, Peter Gilles, and Thomas More, distorting and displacing their personae, his Utopia too mimics and distorts contemporary developments by practising a ventriloquism of sorts. The Utopians’ subject constitution is premised on the artifice of appropriating multiple stereotyped representations into one composite spatial Other. Just like travel narratives built up intertextual metarealities that fostered stereotyped constructions of racial others, Utopian cities too form stereotypes by claiming a uniformity in customs and administrative machinations that is possible only in fiction.
Early-modern constructions of the Self were especially dependent of such cultural others. But Utopia does more than passively participate in myth-making. Utopia exists as a metatext that responds to as much as it reinforces exigencies of early-modern subject constitution. It mimics travel narratives only to self-consciously introduce an imaginative strand in its traditional yarn. Hythlodaeus’s voice acts here as the escape route for securing More’s privacy by being the product of his own creative impulse. It is impossible to fully accept Hythlodaeus as More’s mouthpiece — although in Utopian language “he” means “I” — as More is deliberately ambivalent about his Utopia, not because he could not make up his mind, but because “politically, he could not be seen to endorse a particular standpoint” (Brotton 56). The seductive power of the humanist rhetoric posits the common man at the centre of the Utopian “commonwealth” without being too radical about its position. More keeps it arguable to what extent he himself would embrace a state policy that espouses religious toleration, but the notion of a secular state that he explores is, undoubtedly, very modern in word and spirit.
Brotton, Jerry. The Renaissance: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2006. Dupr?, Louis. Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture. Yale UP, 1993. Frye, Northrop. “Varieties of Literary Utopias.” Utopias and Utopian Thought. Ed. Frank E. Manuel, Beacon Press, 1965, pp. 25–49. Habermas, Juergen. Theory and Practice. Translated by John Viertel, Beacon Press, 1973. Marin, Louis. “The Frontiers of Utopia.” Utopias and the Millenium. Ed. Krishan Kumar and Stephen Bann, Reakton Books, 1993, pp. 7–16. More, Thomas. Utopia. Translated by Paul Turner, Penguin Books, 1965:2003. Namaste, Ki. “The Politics of Inside/Out: Queer Theory, Poststructuralism, and a Sociological Approach to Sexuality.” Sociological Theory, vol. 12, no. 2, 1994, pp. 220–231. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/201866. Popper, Karl R. The Open Society and Its Enemies. 4th ed., vol. 1, Harper & Row, 1967. Rengasamy, P. Introduction. Utopia, by Thomas More, Macmillan India Limited, 1980. Steintrager, James. “Plato and More’s ‘Utopia.’” Social Research, vol. 36, no. 3, 1969, pp. 357–372. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40969973. Taylor, Charles. Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Harvard UP, 1989. Turner, Paul. Introduction. Utopia, by Thomas More, Penguin Books, 1965:2003, pp. xi-xxiv.
A “Perfect Society” In “Utopia” Written By Sir Thomas More
In the More Utopian readings (Utopia by Sir Thomas More) we learn about the different ways that the Utopians lived. We learn about their different rituals they have and how they have to follow a certain lifestyle. The readings have all been very interesting due to the fact that each one is different in its own way and how they all have a connection in a way they all have customs and notions that they practice and indulge in. When it comes to creating a “perfect” society there comes a bit of challenge in order to maintain a balance in people and in laws. This means there can be agreements and disagreements depending on how you create your society and what laws and notions you choose to apply to your Utopia. One important custom, notion, or practice of the Utopians that caught my attention would have to be how they all have the same laws.
According to More, “… the manners, customs, and laws of which are the same, and they are all contrived as near in the same manner as the ground on which they stand will allow.” which means to me that every city in this Utopia is treated equally and no one is treated less or differently but equally. They also discuss certain concerns and are provided with any necessities they wish to have. This is something that I believe should always be considered because everyone deserves rights and equality among everyone. This can also bring less conflicts in society due to no one complaining about differences and how they are treated.Another important custom, notion, or practice of the Utopians that caught my attention would have to be how they all practice a certain custom that they have derived since childhood.
According to More, “Agriculture is that which is so universally understood among them that no person, either man or woman, is ignorant of it; they are instructed in it from their childhood, partly by what they learn about in school, and partly by practice, they being led out often into the fields about the town, where they not only see others at work but are likewise exercised in it themselves.” They are all required to live in a farm for a couple of years in order to experience in agriculture even though they have inherited it already. Each man and woman have a certain duty to complete such as the manufacture of wool or flax. This custom they have is very important in some way because it is important to practice something that will eventually help them out and be useful in the future. They can pass this custom down to their children so they can learn how to farm and learn how to live their lives like that. I envision a small-scale Utopia because I believe that a small-scale Utopia will be easier to manage rather that a more big-scale Utopia.
The essential goal in this Utopia is be to be an active participating community. For this to happen we would have to ensure that people attend a mandatory meeting every month at the city hall with the Mayor so everyone can discuss any concerns and ask any questions and come to a agreement to solve the issues. We want people to share fundamental goals, values and commitments. Every person would have a chance to address whatever they want, but will have to fill out an application stating their concern or question and turn it in a week before the meeting date in order for the Mayor to review it during the monthly Reyes 3meetings. This is to try and avoid conflicts and try and make things flow smoothly throughout the city. Men and women would have equal rights and responsibilities, which means no rigid gender roles.
Sexual freedom and experimentation in relationships would be allowed as long as there are relationships with consenting adults. Also, to avoid overpopulation the limit to a family household is five. Avoiding overpopulation is important because then the city would get to full since it is a small-scale utopia, and this would probably affect any custom, notion, and practices that are expected to be followed.As education, it would be a free school environment so everyone can earn an education; this goes for any age students. The schools would provide school supplies and books to every student without cost. Also tutoring would be offered to every student who needs the extra help. This is to encourage kids and adults to increase their education as far as they wish. Also earning an education would help gain knowledge to earn a stable career. Also healthcare would be provided to prevent illnesses, diseases, and deaths.
Every hospital and clinic would be free to any patient and would provide medication.Every house is built the same, except any color may be chosen so it can be ordinary somehow and not be identical. The houses would be built the same in order to try and avoid people from judging other people on how they live and most importantly so if anything needs maintenance it would be easier to fix knowing how everyone’s house is set up. Every house would be provided with cameras, alarms, and insurance to avoid any robberies and cover any stolen belongings. The backyards would have many fruit trees and vegetable crops to provide Reyes 4families with fresh produce instead of having to go out to the grocery store and having to purchase it.
Also One special holiday will be “stress free day” which would consist of no one having to attend work or school on that certain day so everyone can get a chance to relax and enjoy the day off without having any responsibilities. This also means that mostly every store, restaurant, and business will be closed. People would be allowed to go to the nearby parks and spend time with family or take a trip to the beach and enjoy the sun. Every individual is expected to live as stress free as possible to be able to live their lives as wanted, just like everyone should.
Society’s Pursue To An Unachievable Utopia
A Utopia is an imaginary world where everyone is respected, and true equality among all humans is achieved. The allure of this perfect theory has led countless individuals to attempt creating such a fantasy. Even though a Utopian society is impossible and does not exist, still, the effort people put into achieving a better civilization is essential and admirable.
Various countries have attempted to develop a perfect world, but have failed for several different reasons. The failure of these social experiments highlight that it is extremely difficult for a society to operate with true equality for everyone. Furthermore, if the total balance is forced on civilization, who is doing the forcing? Are the ones in power ‘more equal than others’ (George Orwell, Animal Farm)? What makes equality challenging to achieve is that everything in the human civilization comes from desire; people always strive for more. Therefore, absolute equality in Utopia cannot satisfy those with greedy spirits. For example, if the same resources and money are given to all citizens, it does not allow an individual to earn more or less. In our world, different jobs have different salaries, such as a doctor and a farmer. Their educational backgrounds are not at the same level, so some would disagree about getting equal pay. Even if people have the same job, if one works hard and other slacks off, it does not seem fair that they receive the same wage. Dissatisfaction between human beings will create conflict and resentment. This is a natural part of human nature, and because of it, a Utopian society is difficult to achieve.
In the flatness of a perfect world, where everyone is treated equally, the exciting parts of human existence will likely vanish. People will not be encouraged to develop their intelligence if they do not feel rewarded for the effort. Furthermore, freedom of choice would have to be limited as a society cannot exist without all kinds of occupations, some of them, such as janitors, are less desirable occupations. If everyone in this paradise gets the same salary regardless of the job they are working on, many will choose not to push themselves to work in essential professions. If that is the case, would a government then have to assign people to various jobs, whether they wanted to work in that field or not? This happened in China just after the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s. Even though the government wanted to create a form of a Utopian society, they had to assign citizens to various occupations regardless of what the people wanted. This seems to be counter to what it truly is.
People still insist on trying to improve society in order to have a better quality of life, even though we all know that it is highly unlikely that a perfect Utopia can exist, For example, in the book History of American Socialism by John Humphrey Noyes, the author portrays a world where there is no need to create laws. Instead, the government rewards good citizens as a way of boosting morale among the population. Even though the social experiment of this paradise failed later in the book, its endeavor, to a certain extent, made a significant impact on the ruling class by limiting exploitation and domination. This attempt to have society experience public ownership also provided a fundamental theoretical basis and practical knowledge for the development of socialism. Its failure, however, gives us some additional in-depth insight into a Utopia’s limitations, even though it has left a substantial legacy in the history of humanity trying to create a perfect world.
A Utopia is unachievable, but as long as the process is well thought out, we should not be pessimistic about trying to improve society. In this short life, people can only focus on a few elements, try to gain greater success, and learn from their failures. Although there is no absolute perfection, we can all strive to correct some of the things that are wrong and help to overcome some of the world’s weaknesses. The human pursuit of Utopia may never be realized, but the effort may bring a more harmonious and beautiful place for people to live in.
The Definition And Concept Of Utopia
The word utopia is based on Greek where ou means ‘not’ and topos means ‘place,’ therefore it is not a place. Widely known, Dictionary.com for definitions says as a noun, utopia means, “an imaginary island described in Sit Thomas More’s Utopia as enjoying perfection in law, politics, etc.” Its secondary definition says, “an ideal place or state.” And its third definition says, “any visionary system of political or social perfection.” Despite the fact that utopia is normally defined as an imaginary island enjoying in perfection in law and politics, but a more accurate definition would be an imagined place where everything and every detail of a person’s life is to their ideal personal aesthetics because a utopia should not only be about perfect law and politics, or being a perfect city, but also protecting and projecting your values.
As defined before using Dictionary.com, utopia is defined twice in relation with, “perfect law and politics.” A utopia should not always be connected to a fantasy that includes life with a perfect system of laws and government. This is because to others their utopia might not have anything to do with laws and politics and instead wish to be free of those restrictions and live their lives to their own appealing views. It’s not critical to a person whether or not their imaginary world has law and politics imbedded into it simply because the creator of their utopia has the right to choose what is and is not of most importance to their own fantasy. Instead they can focus on other personal and valued aesthetics because as Dictionary.com secondarily more accurately defined utopia as, “an ideal place or state.” If utopia was thought more as a part of this definition, people would focus less on law and politics unlike the other definitions and focus on their personal aesthetics instead. A person’s utopia should focus on this aesthetics through their high standards and symmetry so that they can pay particular attention to a fantasy away from the imperfect laws and politics we are facing today.
Charles Zarka, in the Opinionator of The New York Times, says, “The island of Utopia is somewhere else, not only because it has no assignable location in the known world, even if its spatial and local dimensions are clearly marked, but also because it is a perfect city,” because to everyone their utopias location is unknown due to its perfectionism that does not exist in todays corrupted world and current unstable cities. In today’s society an important limitation to a person’s ideal state or place is law and politics. These two factors in the real world are what keep many people from achieving success and is why it should instead be encouraged to create an idealistic utopia while avoiding these limitations or eliminating them completely since they are what is keeping a person from living their dreams at peace in the first place. Although, avoiding politics when creating a personal utopia does not come easy for many people, especially since as Charles Zarka mentioned, “At the end of the modern world, in the 20th century, utopia became political.” Today many decisions are made strictly on politics and on who benefits the most from any given situation. For those who are heavily involved in politics and view it as something they love would be of an exception to incorporating law and politics in their utopia because living in a world of politics would likely be appealing to them in their utopia and unavoidable.
A utopia should also focus on one’s personal values because those values are the base of why the decisions made are being implicated at all times in their world. Carol Kolmerten speaks about how values between men and women are viewed traditionally and says, “Traditionally, fathers have presided over families, over nations, over all of society’s valued institutions,” to remind others of how the role of a man in seen in today’s society. Men do this by paying the bills for their family, seen as presidents or political roles for their nation, and heavily influencing institutions of politics, economy, religion, and education. Kolemerten also says, “Traditional women’s work of raising children — arguably the most important task of a culture — has almost always been devalued or ‘ghettoized’ by its separation from the paid workforce.” Unfortunately, some people in our society believe that women do not have the right to stay home and watch their children grow while being their teacher. They believe that women should contribute to society by working and contributing taxes just as the men are. The way society judges who is more valuable than the other can be implemented in the way someone creates their valued utopia. A person’s values are an important part of their utopia because they can influence decisions from financial situations to their influences in institutions or whether or not their choice of career should be much of importance.
Utopia can be usually defined as imaginary island with perfect law and politics or an ideal state or place. Although, instead it should be defined as an imagined place where everything and every detail of a person’s imaginary island is to their ideal personal aesthetics.
The Ideal Society In Utopia By Thomas More
Utopia is a masterwork written by Thomas More, and published in 1516. The island of Utopia is a kind of positive counter-image of what might be England, if it was better governed. Thomas More describes his ideal society which is an island because isolation on the outside is essential to the proper functioning of the ideal society. Utopia is a crescent-shaped island that contains fifty-four large cities and the distance between every city and another is 24 miles away. Language, laws, customs and institutions are uniform. The capital which is located in the center of the island is Amaurot because it is the seat of the government and the senate; hence, public affairs and concerns of the state are always discussed in council with the Prince. Any utopian who has independent discussion about public affairs is sentenced to death. Utopians have abolished private property and apply the principle of common possession. All individuals are equal and have the liberty of religion. Religions are multiple and coexist, but most Utopians are monotheistic and recognize an immense and inexplicable God. They simply postulate two dogmas: the immortality of the soul and the government of the world through divine providence. Those who do not believe in these dogmas are excluded from the community, but are neither beaten nor killed. On the other hand, any religion that accepts these two principles is legal. Thus, atheists are refused by the utopian society. Money nor wealth have a value in the island: “gold is a badge of infamy”. Thomas More observed how the British society was driven by money, and how some individual receive admiration and esteem by people just for being wealthy. Although, in the island, people share their overabundant resources with pleasure. In Thomas More’s Utopia, every individual should have a job and work for 6 hours. Not alike England at this epoch, where there was a lot of housewives, nobles, and beggars. In addition, because agriculture is the prime professional occupation in the Utopia. It is mandatory for every Utopian to work in agriculture for two years. Any Utopian that committed adultery and tried to escape the Island is harshly punished, mistreated, and is exposed to servitude. Also, Utopians believe that virginity and premarital examination are required.
The perfection of the island passes only by the standardization of all its elements (geographical, architectural and human). But there is no diversity, the inhabitants all lead the same existence, work the same number of hours and live in the same houses. The populations of the fifty-four cities speak the same language, wear the same customs, and are governed by the same institutions and laws. We then see that the ideal appearance of Utopia has a price which is the destruction of individual expression. This utopian concept has many contradictions. For example, to prevent conspiracies against freedom, those who discuss public affairs outside the Senate are sentenced to death. In addition, utopians who have premarital sex are severely punished although it is a personal freedom and a private concern that the government should not involve in it. Hence, in England of 1500s premarital sex also was not socially accepted. Moreover, as mentioned previously, virginity and premarital examination are both a requirement for marriage. Although, what kind of premarital examination can be done in 1500s when medicine and technology (used in medical field) were not developed yet? In the imaginary island, the groom and the bride being naked in front of each other is considered the “premarital examination”; it is done to avoid discovering hidden imperfections after marriage (when it is too late); this method is logical for Utopian because it is also applied when buying a horse. We wonder if Thomas More was serious or humorous about this method which tremendously contradicts Utopian’s set of morality and decency, or about comparing the human body to a horse which is extremely a pejorative image for men and women. Thus, in the island, the beauty of the body is more appreciated than the beauty of the soul. In my perception, I feel that Thomas More’s island is close to be a dystopia and not utopia because a lot of social, ethical, and political issues still exist; in addition, Thomas More’s concept of freedom contradicts with mine. However, reading the description of someone else’s utopia that will definitely be dissimilar to the description of my utopia is very captivating and absorbing because I get to see the ideal world in someone else’s perception.
Two decades later, the Philosopher of the Age of enlightenment, Voltaire wrote Candid or The Optimist. In one of the passages, Voltaire, in order to criticize European societies, spoke about his Utopia to which he called Eldorado. In the passage, Eldorado appears as an extraordinary place, an ideal world in all domains. The populations of Eldorado have good manners, and positive behaviors. Politically, Eldorado is close to a liberal monarchy to an extent that there is a liberty of thinking (political, religious, or philosophical). Moreover, repressive institutions do not exist. Also, resources are not scarce they are overabundant and shared by everyone. Similarly to Thomas More’s Utopia, money and wealth have no value or utility in Eldorado. Despite the great similarities between the two utopias, the downsides of Thomas More’s Utopia seem to be greater than Voltaire’s Utopia probably due to the elaboration of sundry right-minded concept during the Age of enlightenment. Although, Voltaire, in his novel, claimed that this imaginary world will never exist, it is only a dream.
Of Chaos and Criticism
“May the odds be ever in your favor,” a smiling Effie Trinket declares to a crowd of grim faces; the pink-haired administrator is about to draw the names of the next two tributes who will represent District 12 at the 74th Hunger Games. Along with tributes from the other districts, they will be thrown into an arena to fight until only one is left standing. Their chances of survival are incredibly slim—the truth is, in nearly every dystopian plot, the odds are hardly in anyone’s favor. Oppressed by the system, the characters in these stories must rise to the occasion, challenge the norm and break free from their respective situations. Various predicaments may make these heroes miserable, but the readers certainly aren’t. After all, their struggles make for an epic adventure. With the upcoming release of films like The Giver and The Maze Runner, dystopian fiction is again becoming the talk of the town. These film adaptations are a testament to the genre’s enduring relevance and its ability to leave us at the edge of our seats.
Past, present and future
According to Maria Mina, a part-time lecturer at the English Department who specializes in science fiction, the dystopian world is essentially a failed utopia. While utopian novels speculate as to what a perfect society might be like, dystopian novels paint a much bleaker picture of reality. “We cannot point to a single text and say, ‘This is the beginning of dystopia,’ but we can do that with utopia,” Mina explains. Usually interpreted as a social satire, Thomas More’s iconic Utopia (1516) was the very first of its kind. It was set in a fictional island with its own unique set of customs, which contradicted those of European society at the time.
“On the surface, dystopia has the appearance of a utopia,” Mina explains. “The majority of the people who dwell in it embrace it, even when it opposes them.” Both feature a regulated society where the fate of the individual rests in the hands of the state. But while totalitarian rule breeds peace and order in a utopia, this desire for perfection can eventually lead to self-destruction in a dystopia. Mina cites the release of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895) as a pivotal moment in dystopian literature because of its setting. Before it was published, most dystopian stories were set in a different place; Wells’ novella, on the other hand, is set in a distant time, following the Time Traveller nearly 30 million years into the future. He is shocked by what he finds because, as Mina claims, “[dystopia] is the nightmare of the future.”
The dystopia largely came about due to society’s disillusionment with science. Although science was first seen as a life-saving force, its reputation eventually took a turn for the worse, especially in the wake of two World Wars and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “Science for us is, at best, a double-edged sword,” Mina says. “We think of it as something that’s far more likely to kill us than save us all. ”Jocelyn Martin, Ph.D., an assistant instructor at the English Department with a specialization in trauma studies, adds that the popularity of the genre grew more pronounced after the end of the Cold War, the crumbling of the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 attacks. In this modern day and age, the enemy can no longer be easily identified. “This global unease reveals itself in the interrogation of the status of the heroin recent films,” she adds.
What Is My Ideal Utopian World
A human-made reality with the sole purpose of providing endless pleasure with a series of unceasing of ups, but to what cost? Utopia is a personal view unique to an individual, however, as humans, we share a common desire for pleasure and fulfilling these pleasures. My personal utopia, on the other hand, would be one similar to the blemished and imperfect reality which is lived in twenty-first century Canada. The reason for this being that a world consisting of endless pleasure for all persons is a false and emotionless reality. At a glance, I would describe my perfect world as a “utopian dystopia”. I would improve on aspects such as environmental issues, economic and political flaws, as well as human rights. In contrast, however, I would keep a healthy balance of chaos in my utopian society. In my ideal utopian world, I would amplify one’s quality of life by implementing humanitarian views while allowing a beneficial amount of chaos to maintain reality.
Above all else, implementing a free and democratic society is of the utmost importance. Democracy sets the foundation for equality, protection, and havoc. Living in any given place which has some form of democracy is a utopia in itself. In my “utopian dystopia”, democracy would take a form similar, if not exactly, to Canada. Certain levels of government will take care of the welfare of my given utopia; healthcare, the judicial system, international trade, and quality of life.
My utopia will adopt the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in particular, the reasonable limits clause will be an essential aspect to everyday life in my given utopia; this allows for the healthy amount of chaos which will bring order and emotion. In comparison, I believe that having a police department and military are essential to creating a sense of security as well as fear. Incorporating a humanitarian notion, I believe that in a utopian world it is compulsory to assist the less fortunate and underprivileged with the only reward being satisfaction. Hence, military and the police force should all implement and promote the humanitarian doctrine while in the field.
On a lighter, less political note, enforcing the importance of the environment and reducing one’s carbon footprint is to be made second-nature. This is critical as it aids in creating a healthy environment for all species as well as creating a self-sustaining utopia. Smaller divisions within sed utopia, towns or cities, will have large mandatory green spaces which are to be kept in adequate condition. On a similar topic, the utopian divisions are to be ones of diversity and equality; however, there is no certain way of achieving diversity as people like to be around those similar to them. Although my utopia is to be one of inclusiveness and equality, this is not to infringe one’s right to freedom of expression or freedom of speech within reasonable limits. In all honesty, however, my utopia would consist of Hogwarts as a ligament school and have happy dogs running around everywhere.
Nonetheless, if I had the ability to create a utopian world for all of the world’s current inhibitors, it would be one that amplifies the quality of human life through humanitarian views while allowing a beneficial amount of chaos to maintain reality.
Utopia By Thomas More: Understanding Of Truth
There is no denying Thomas More’s Utopia is a product of fiction, it is evident by his use of combining fictional characters and places, with characters and places that are in fact, real. Aside from the genera of literature, in More’s letter to Peter Giles, More emphasises the sentiment of truth in which the book belongs, quoting he “would rather tell an objective falsehood than an intentional lie. In short I’d rather be honest than clever”.
There is one other place where More plays with the understanding of truth, in which he wants Peter Giles to reach out to a fictional character to make sure Utopia “includes nothing false and omits nothing true”. The letter More is writing to Peter Giles is also a fictional piece which leads one to ask, what might More be saying about human nature, honesty, the state of truth, and the objective goal to his audience? From the very first word, to the very last, More is writing a fictional piece but in this, More sets up an almost realistic setting for his audience using the letters he “sends” to real people, and a specific dialogue called Platonic dialogue. But the “truth” in More’s Utopia is not to be found in the setting, the characters, nor the type of dialogue he uses, but in the idea’s he is trying to convey. This is portrayed at the end of the book, how More, and his character, choose to end it in this quote, “-I cannot agree with everything he said. Yet I freely confess there are many things in Utopian commonwealth that in our own societies I would wish rather than expect to see. ” With this quote More’s character is touching on a subjective truth, that although he may not agree with everything Hythloday had to say, there is still a certain aspect of his ideas that rang true to him, which he would wish to see in our societies but does not expect to see them.
The reason I found More to end his book in such a way, was to have his audience, in a sense, do the same thing, pull idea’s that they found to be true in the book and take a conscious look at our own societies and see where they might fit best. This gives his audience a sense of hope, that if they wish to see things change in their society they would go out and try and change them using the ideas More explored. More does not want his audience to be like his character at the end of the book, to merely wish for change, but he wants his audience to be that change. This touches back to what More had said in the first part of his book, when he talks about men with experience and knowledge should put them to use at court and for public benefit, but they should do this with, “an indirect approach and with covert suggestions”.
At the end of the book, and more so in the reiteration of the last paragraph, More accomplishes his very own ideal. More gives his audience a world that is, debatably, near perfection, and wants his audience to use the truths they found in his ideas to change the world around them. In one way or another, More is educating his audience to be, “men with experience and knowledge” so that they can use what he has taught them to put them to use at court or public benefit. But More cannot induce this onto his audience without doing it himself in a “indirect approach and with covert suggestions”. More does not directly tell his audience to adopt his ideas, instead he sets up a story which shows his ideas put to the test and applied to society and its individuals, then has his audience choose for themselves which parts worked and which parts need improving. More’s influence on his audience portrays his view of human nature, which is, human nature at its core is good. He argues this by pointing out that having a death penalty for theft would ultimately be killing off good people. Through his persona of Raphael Hythloday he states, “When that little money is at an end (and it soon spent in wandering from place to place), what is left for them to do but either to steal, and so to be hanged (God knows how justly!), or to go about and beg?. This quote ultimately means that people are forced into doing bad things; this is made especially clear with the statement of “When that little money is at an end”, this provides reason for an otherwise good person to commit theft because they are pushed to an any means necessary scenario. But what else does More show us about human nature in the cross comparison between England and Utopia? If all men are good at their core, then what stops them from being good all the time?
More portrayed to his audience that the answer was quite simple; greed and pride. In Utopia there is no sense of private property and because no one can pride themselves with one piece of property, that is better or worse than others in comparison, there is a reduction of pride, greed, poverty, irrationality, and exploitation of the poor by the wealthy. More’s character disagrees with this proposition on the notion that claiming a country with communal property will have no prosperity. The people will have no incentive to work, since they will be fed by the labor of others. In More’s eyes, the lack of private property will also eliminate all respect for authority, and with this loss the chance at bloodshed and conflict will increase. Utopia, in a general sense, agrees with Hythloday, that if there were to be a commonwealth then there would be a reduction of a societal need to operate strictly under consumerism. More wants his audience to contemplate the ideas in which he brought to life through Utopia. His goal was not for everyone to find truth in every single idea he explored but to find, even just one, truth in his ideas of what a Utopia should look like. This can be illustrated through the very last sentence, “I cannot agree with everything he said. Yet I freely confess there are many things in Utopian commonwealth that in our own societies I would wish rather than expect to see”, even More’s character does not agree with everything that Hythloday has said, and More does not expect his audience to do the same. But with that being said, More is alluding to something even greater than having people agree with every single one of his ideas, More is indirectly telling his audience what to do with the truths they did find in his ideas, and that is to be the change they want to see in the world.
More portrayed an idealized world and urges his audience to strive, even one step closer, to his Utopia. Being conscious of a Utopia to strive for is not enough, and More is cognizant of this fact that knowing is not enough; that we need to apply, that willing is not enough; but we must do. More’s goal is for his audience is to be, after exploring his ideas, men with experience and knowledge and now with their experience and knowledge, of his very own ideas, he want them to use them at court and for public benefit, so that one day our world could be, even one step closer, to a Utopia.