Term Paper: Women and Feminism

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SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Domestically speaking, this creates for women in More's Utopia the quintessential situation of being "stuck between a rock and a hard place" where one's actions are both exalted and damned at the same time.

Thus, in this fabricated Utopian ideal, the metaphor of communal living that supposedly transforms both the public and private arenas does nothing but wreck havoc on all the institutions associated with this society. The places where women traditionally and exclusively operate are thus governed by the entire community, a situation quite reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's classic short story "The Lottery" where the citizens of a small town annually gather together to choose who lives and who dies based on the drawing of a lottery from a little "black box."

Yet the self and the individual is not entirely wiped out in Utopia, for communal living encourages the whole to operate as one specific unit. The potential of each person, regardless of gender, is altered by physical and intellectual education which prepares him/her for exceptional service in the public sphere. Thomas More's socio-political agenda in Utopia creates a paradigm for feminist based on family interaction, gender-bending, non-wealth and property and bizarre sexually-oriented situations.

As the author and creator of Utopia, Thomas More has clearly shown his own personal tolerance and progressive views concerning women's rights and social privileges.

His overall view of how to make a better world for men and women to live in has fascinated the minds of thinkers and philosophers in every age. From Plato to the present day, a span of almost two and a half millenniums, men have been thinking and writing about what the world would be like if as a homogenous unity an earthly paradise could be created and maintained.

In the dialog of Sir Thomas More, certain objections to the communal idea are present, yet this seems to be the only point on which he appears to have some reservations, but the words of Raphael Hythloday brings forth the answers to his objections very satisfactorily. In More's Utopian ideal, violence, bloodshed and vice, according to the narrator, have been eliminated. The people of Utopia have chosen instead to labor for recreation's sake in their gardens, improve their homes, attend humanistic lectures, enjoy music and converse profitably with each other; in other words, they have chosen to pursue more profitable enterprises associated with the mind instead of with capitalistic pursuits of wealth and money.

The Utopian women, for the most part, live very different lives as compared to that of the typical sixteenth-century English woman who usually lived in absolute poverty and slaved every waking hour simply to subsist. In this society, adultery is regarded as a crime and is punished by slavery. Marriage for love is much encouraged, but also prudence in selecting a mate. The welfare of the family is a state matter since it is the basic unit of the Utopian state. The people are anxious for the commonwealth to be rich, for the Utopians buy off their enemies and use their wealth to hire foreign mercenary soldiers which they hope in this manner will encourage potential enemies to murder one another.

The Utopians are described as a religious people who practice toleration almost unknown during More's times in Catholic Tudor England. Some are Christians while others worship God in their own way. Two specific points should be made in connection with More's brilliant yet unsettling Utopia -- first, his borrowings from Plato and other Greek writers which prevented him from adding much of his own theories and practices; and second, that in the four and a half centuries since the publication of Utopia, numerous ideas suggested by More have been put into effect in our modern world, such as tolerance for other's viewpoints, equality (generally speaking) amongst the sexes and most important of all the acceptance of the feminist viewpoint on the world as seen through the eyes of women, the proverbial outsiders who have always been able to understand the faults of current society with objectivity based on logic instead of manipulation.

SOURCES CITED & CONSULTED

Ackroyd, Peter. The Life of Thomas More. New York: Anchor Press, 1998.

Ferns, Chris. Narrating Utopia. Liverpool, England: Liverpool University Press, 1999.

Greenblatt, Stephen. Renaissance Self-Fashioning From More to Shakespeare. Chicago:

University of Chicago Press, 1980.

Marius, Richard. Thomas More: A Biography. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.

More,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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