Thomas More’s Utopia Analysis

Many readers have been perplexed by Utopia since its publication. The book focuses on women's rights and the importance of moving away from private property ownership. Its author, Thomas More, was a key figure in the Italian Renaissance. His principal concerns in writing were religious and moral values, as well as individual political duty. During a business trip to see an old friend, Peter Giles, he met Raphael Hythloday, a superb traveler with controversial beliefs.

They debate whether philosophy can impact politics in Giles Garden. While Giles and others agree, Hythloday believes the two are irreconcilable. To illustrate it, he describes a place called Utopia. Hythloday’s primary objective is to move away from the corruption and greed that dominates Europe. He asserts that Utopia is a nation that is based on rational thought with emphasis on communal property, minimal love for precious things such a gold, high productivity, no class distinctions, no poverty, high religious tolerance, little inclination to war and little crime and immoral behavior. According to him, the society is superior to Europe.

He argues that going a Utopian style is the gateway to reducing poverty, exploitation at the workplaces, and elimination of war. While he celebrates Utopia, he laments other utopian customs such as restriction of travel by the government, slavery and security forces. He also states that a new policy can look insane to a person of a different of seeing how the world is no matter how good that policy is. Similarly, while utopian policies are better than those of the Europeans, the Europeans will always see flaws in them. For example, the utopian policies of a common property are ludicrous to the Europeans.

Utopia describes an unreal and temporary place that is far from reality because of having the best qualities that the world can have. With his account of Utopia, Thomas More typically suggests that it is impossible to get perfect things. Efforts to search for perfect places is a waste of time because such places do not actually exist. The work that is full of ambiguity gives the readers a responsibility of answering big questions, some of which are a matter of life and death.

Gulliver Travels

Gulliver gets into a storm that takes him to Houyhnhnms where he lands a detailed description of the society that is perfect in its eyes. The land is divided by long rows of trees that are irregularly planted but growing naturally. The countryside is unspoiled and has plenty of grass and several oat fields. Ideally, the descriptions of Gulliver create a picture of the Garden of Eden because of its harmlessness and harmony. The reader can establish that it is impossible to find such place anywhere in the world. It is merely an idealized and unused place that is a form of utopia. Such descriptions of the countryside are available in several Utopian texts.

Gulliver’s Houyhnhnms is a natural environment with general disposition of virtues. The residents demonstrate what an evil natural creature is and cultivates reason.More specifically, Houyhnhnms is a representation of a world without evil, where lies and other words of evil that can endanger the society do not exist in their language. The name Houyhnhnms is a perfection of nature and is inhabited by superior species. The author suggests that the ideal state can be enhanced by strict regulations. Nature and reason are the main guides to perfection of individuals, and reason alone is sufficient to govern a rational creature. Societal rule facilitates stable social coexistence. Their perception of life minimizes the freedom of people and their individuality. However, despite that the society is perceived to be perfect, their differences in social hierarchy can be seen and illustrated by a variety of colors of horses. The whites, iron-grey, Sorrel, had different shapes form the black, dapple-grey. They are not born with similar talents of the mind and capacity to improve on them. As a result, the status of being servants without ability and aspiration to match out of their own race was visible.

The life of an individual is predetermined by birth control and mating behavior of an individual. Breeding occurs within one class to ensure that only a master race is bred. Other forms of perfection in Houyhnhnms is the attribute of refusing money and other luxurious commodities” my master said that he could never find a reason for his appetite that is unnatural”. Ideally, the author suggests that the residents cannot understand their desire for things that are useless. Things such as jewelry are perceived as useless in everyday life among the people of Houyhnhnms. Unlike the Yahoos, the people are not subject to diseases.

The Houyhnhnms landscape and society are understood as seemingly perfect. However, some of its attributes do not fit logically into an ideal society’s picture. For instance, the society is divided into masters and servants and one’s position is determined by the color of hair. In addition, the system is such that it is hard for one to climb a social ladder hence there is a predetermined way of life that a creature is going to live after its birth. Instead of a fair treatment of other species, the Houyhnhnms have a slave system which is regarded as a dystopian element. The yahoos, who make garments for the Houyhnhnms are referred to as slaves.

Ideally, the perfection of this system creates questions about the ideal meaning of justice. It is an authoritarian socio-political system that influences the daily happenings and behavior of citizens. Citizens are referred to as creatures that are under control. In this respect, it is hard to argue that the society is perfect or almost too perfect. It is a negative utopia. The society demonstrate totalitarianism hence failing to med the fundamental requirements of the ideal society

Similarities of the Two

In both Gulliver’s travels and utopia, there is an intimate link between justice and reason. People are required to think in accordance with the accepted standards of the society to sustain perfection. In More’s Utopia, people are required to accept common property ownership while in Gulliver’s Travels, all individuals are expected to suppress their perceptions about what is good and evil. In addition, both accounts suggest that institutional justice in a contemporary society is satirized through comparison with a perfect justice of a society that is imaginary and rational.

More so, in both accounts, there is a link between nature and reason. In both the Utopian and Houyhnhnm people, and natural reason is idealized and taken as a normative standard in the society. All people are expected to abide by the standards of reason to enhance peaceful coexistence. In Gulliver’s Travels, the primary goal of Houyhnhnms is to cultivate reason and accept to be wholly governed by it. To the community, nature, and reason are efficient and sufficient guides to become a reasonable animal. The most important thing in such society is suppression of feelings of what is good and evil, have no love for luxuries because they are not essential in their daily lives and avoid speaking against injustices such as selective rights to give birth and the prevailing caste system that minimizes individual progress. Having such attributes of not speaking against social justice seeks to minimize any reactions to them that can compromise the society’s perfectness. Similarly, in More’ Utopia, people are required to minimize their love for precious things such as gold and embrace communal property ownership rather than private property.

Lastly, the two scenarios do not actually exist. It is impossible to find a society where people are more concerned about the community than themselves as suggested by Thomas More. Similarly, a society where people’s feelings are suppressed such that the oppressed people have similar feelings as their oppressors do not exist. People cannot suppress their love for precious things such as gold as suggested by the two authors as well


There is an assumption that the Houyhnhnms society is perfect because they suppress their feelings about injustices. Love, grief, ambition, lust, and passion do not exist among them because reason suppresses such qualities. Their form of justice is based on the interaction between nature and reason. The Houyhnhnms are endowed with general disposition of all values by nature and they do not have conceptions of ideas about what is rational or evil among creatures. They are not only innocent of evil and lying but are also ignorant of it. There is an assumption that evil and good does not exist because the feelings about them are suppressed. On the other hand, in Utopia, people are required to use reason to promote social good, adhere to the standards, and ensure communal productivity. There is no suppression of a sense of evil and good because poverty, greed, and corruption are disallowed. Moreover, while Gulliver’s Travels do not see anything bad in hierarchies, Utopia seems to advocate for their dismantling to create an even society devoid of social classes.


Thomas More’s Utopia and Gulliver’s travels have a variety of commonalities and of the shared attributes is the use of reason to enhance harmony in the society. Thomas More argues that it is through reason that people in a Utopian society minimize greed and corruption, desire for unimportant things such as jewellery and private property ownership that promotes societal inequalities and reduced productivity. On the other hand, Gulliver’s travels argue that reason is an important element of a perfect society because it suppresses their feelings such that they are incapable of differentiating good deeds from evil. However, while the More’s Utopian society is characterized by freedom of people to identify evil and good, Gulliver’s perfect society is characterized by suppression of the ability to differentiate the two. Therefore, whereas Thomas More’s Utopian society understands that evil and good exists, Gulliver’s society does not understand that because the people's feelings are suppressed.


More, Thomas, Francis Bacon, Henry Neville, and Susan Bruce. 2008. Three early modern utopias. Oxford: Oxford University Press.2008

Olin, John C. Interpreting Thomas More's Utopia. New York: Fordham University Press.1989. p8

Swift, Jonathan. "Gulliver’s travels." In Gulliver’s Travels, pp. 27-266. Palgrave Macmillan US, 1995.

The Statesman.. Karachi: [Mohammad Owais]. 1990. P.27

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