Literature Study GuidesUtopiaBook 2 Chapter 2 Summary

Utopia | Study Guide

Sir Thomas More

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Utopia | Book 2, Chapter 2 : Of Their Towns, Particularly of Amaurot | Summary

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Summary

Raphael explains "he that knows one of their towns knows them all—they are so like one another." He proceeds to describe the capital, Amaurot, as an example (because he lived there for five years).

Like all Utopian towns, Amaurot is built in a square near a water source (in this case, the river Anider). The fountainhead of their water source is fortified against possible attack, and the entire town is surrounded by a fortified wall with "towers and forts." There is a dry moat around three sides, and the fourth side is protected by the river.

The streets are all 20 feet wide, "convenient for all carriage, and are well-sheltered from the winds." The buildings are well built and absolutely uniform in appearance. Every house has its own enclosed garden, and every garden is beautiful, well kept, and bountiful. Every house has a front and back door. Every door is left unlocked because "there being no property among them, every man may freely enter into any house." Every 10 years they switch houses by lot.

Analysis

Like all Utopian cities (and unlike any English city), Amaurot was planned by one individual (Utopus) and is thus orderly and rational in its design. While Raphael admits it took some time to get to its present status, Amaurot now consists of beautifully managed homes and gardens. They are identical to one another and held in common.

The idea of a world in which no individual holds property and everyone shares alike was not new when More wrote Utopia. It was also a well-established norm for people in religious life (monks and nuns), all of whom renounced their own property. They lived in communal abbeys and convents where they shared in the labor and the proceeds of their labor. More himself was strongly drawn to the religious life.

Outside of religious institutions, however, the concept of communally held property was beyond the experience of Tudor Englishmen. More, who worked with kings and cardinals of the Church, would have experienced some of the most impressive examples of individually held wealth in Tudor England.

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