Utopia

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Raphael Hythloday Character Analysis

Raphael Hythloday is an old, sunburned, long-bearded, wise (and fictional) man from Portugal who meets Thomas More and Peter Giles in Antwerp. Hythloday traveled the world (in the book) alongside the great historical explorer Amerigo Vespucci, and he knows a great deal about many foreign peoples and countries. As such, Hythloday is able to provide More and Giles with a critique of governance in Europe, and more specifically in England, which he finds to be irrationally ruled by pride. Hythloday also tells the two men about the most perfectly governed society he knows of, namely, Utopia, where he lived for five years. As wise as he is, Hythloday is nonetheless pessimistic: he does not believe that reason and wisdom can improve society as it is currently organized, because pride, private interests, and flattery have made it so that good counsel falls on deaf ears in the king’s court. That More the author intends Hythloday to be an ambiguous character—is he a herald of good tidings? a verbose crackpot?—is suggested by his name: “Hythloday” likely means something like “peddler of triflers” or “kindler of nonsense,” and yet the traveler also shares his first name with the Biblical angel who helps man understand the ways of God.

Raphael Hythloday Quotes in Utopia

The Utopia quotes below are all either spoken by Raphael Hythloday or refer to Raphael Hythloday. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Travel, Discovery, and Place Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Oxford University Press edition of Utopia published in 2009.
Book 1 Quotes

Nothing is more easy to be found than barking Scyllas, ravening Calaenos, and Laestrygons, devourers of people, and suchlike great and incredible monsters. But to find citizens ruled by good and wholesome laws, that is an exceeding rare and hard thing.

Related Characters: Thomas More (speaker), Raphael Hythloday
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

More (the character, as opposed to the author) is speaking with Raphael Hythloday, a traveler who seeks wisdom, and can be read as a mixture of Plato and Ulysses. More asks Hythloday about the places he has been, the people who inhabited them, and how those people governed themselves. More prides himself on not asking Hythloday about whether or not he encountered any monsters. 

In pointing this out, the text parodies the genre of travel narration, which usually relies on bombastic adventures and terrible beasts for entertainment value. Here, More (the author) pokes fun at people who read about the world for entertainment rather than for insights into how they can better their societies and themselves. He is also making an ironic jab at the princes and aristocracies of Europe: they are the monsters so easy to find, those that cannibalize their own societies.

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Provision should have been made [in England], so that no man should be driven to this extreme necessity, first to steal and then to die.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker), A Lawyer
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Hythloday recalls a conversation he had with a cunning lawyer about justice. Their conversation centers on the example of the thief, who, in Europe, is hanged for his crimes. Hythloday argues that this punishment is extreme and inappropriate for the crime. Indeed, Hylthloday thinks that the crime of stealing is motivated by "extreme necessity" as opposed to a base desire to do bad things. As such, the thief who steals to keep themselves or their family alive is more a victim than a criminal - their society has failed them by leaving them unable to earn a living, and then it fails them twice over when it executes them for acting on their only available chance at survival. 

This scene can be read as a sort of “parable” in which the various characters exemplify what Hythloday sees as the wrongs of European society. The lawyer and Hythloday have two conflicting ideas of justice. The lawyer thinks that justice is the law being effectively enforced, while Hythloday thinks that justice is the organization of a society such that people don’t have any need to break the law in the first place. The lawyer’s view, in contrast to Hythloday’s, seems merciless, inhumane, and ultimately ineffective.

Let not so many be brought up in idleness; let husbandry and tillage be restored; let clothworking be renewed, that there may be honest labours for this idle sort to pass their time in profitably, which hitherto either poverty hath caused to be thieves, or else now be either vagabonds or idle serving men, and shortly will be thieves.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

Hythloday and the lawyer continue their discussion of justice. Hythloday has been expanding on the many social ills in England that create thieves out of men who could be dependable and responsible citizens if the society were better structured.

Here, Hythloday makes an argument that idleness is one of the most dangerous symptoms of a poorly functioning society, as well as an open door to further criminal and anti-social behavior. A thief, after all, must have been "brought up in idleness," or else they would know a trade and be able to provide for themselves. 

Hythloday calls for a renewal of essential trades: taking care of animals, working the land, and weaving. These, he argues, will give idle men, who currently pass their time as "vagabonds or idle serving-men" something profitable to do with their time that benefits them as well as their society. 

It is against the dignity of a king to have rule over beggars, but rather over rich and wealthy men.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

Hythloday is considering the possibility of being a counselor to a king, as his guests have suggested that he would excel at. Hythloday begins to imagine what his fellow counselors would advise a king to do, and makes arguments against their hypothetical advice. 

Here, Hythloday is arguing against the idea that poverty makes men too weak to behave badly or rebel, and so it can be considered in a king's best interest to keep his subjects poor. However, Hythloday points out that all great revolutions begin in dissatisfaction. If a person has nothing to lose, they are much more likely to be desperate and violent. He goes to point out that it is pathetic and below their "dignity" for a king to "rule over beggars." This kind of rule is better suited to a jailer.

Irrational princes who do everything they can to control their people will ironically bring about revolutions in their realm. 

This school philosophy is not unpleasant among friends in familiar communication, but in the council of kings, where great matters be debated and reasoned with great authority, these things have no place.

Related Characters: Thomas More (speaker), Raphael Hythloday
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

"School philosophy" is used here to refer to academic philosophy divorced from the context of real life. Here, More and Hylthoday agree that school philosophy is pleasant and educational when friends are discussing issues, but that the use of it is not practical in Europe as it is. The "council of kings" is too much concerned with the real-life contexts of the country and people under their rule, and as such, school philosophy would strike them as frivolous and naive.

However, the two men leave open the possibility that in a better world, where people are open-minded and interested in the public good, school philosophy does have a place in governance.

Book 2: Discourse on Utopia Quotes

Utopus…even at his first arriving and entering upon the land [which was to become Utopia], forthwith obtaining the victory [over the natives], caused fifteen miles space of uplandish ground, where the sea had no passage, to be cut and digged up. And so brought the sea round about the land.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker), Utopus
Related Symbols: The Garden and the Island
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

In Book II, Hythloday speaks in detail about Utopia, beginning with its geography. Although Utopia is currently an island, it was not always so. 

In fact, the founder of Utopia, Utopus, arrived and conquered the native people of the land and put them to work digging up the land surrounding Utopia to create an island. This story about how Utopia was founded and created is very telling - the fact that Utopia is an island is especially revealing of Utopia's disconnect from the rest of the world, and of the difficulties of ever arriving at Utopia.

It might be surprising to learn that Utopus formed his ideal society only after conquering another people—although this may be metaphorical, meaning that our hearts must submit to the utopian spirit before we can build a utopia, in a way it seems disingenuous to found a free, just society on the subjugation of others. (Like, arguably, America and some European nations.)

Utopus presumably formed the island of Utopia to protect his ideal society from external corruptions. This purposeful disconnection makes it easier for a utopia to develop, but it also renders it unrelatable to the outside world and divorced from many of the historical troubles that real societies must deal with.

Book 2: Of Their Towns, Particularly of Amaurote Quotes

As for their [the Utopians’] cities, whoso knoweth one of them knoweth them all, they be all so like one to another as far forth as the nature of the place permitteth.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

All of the cities in Utopia are almost identical to one another - if you've been to one, then you know them all. 

This uniformity among the cities reflects the values and virtues of the citizens of Utopia. Being alike to one another is of utmost importance - just like their cities are identical, so everyone who lives in every city believes in the same values, and acts according to the same civic plan. It is clear that the citizens of Utopia and Hythloday consider this uniformity a recipe for a calm, just, and efficient country. 

There is no allowance for diversity or variety in Utopia, however, which is unsettling. But Hytholday does not seem to be disturbed by this lack - he essentially argues that peace and prosperity for all is more important than creativity and individuality.

Every house hath two doors… These doors be made with two leaves never locked nor bolted, so easy to be opened, that they will follow the least drawing of a finger, and shut again alone. Whoso will may go in, for there is nothing within the houses that is private or any man’s own.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

In Utopian society, there is no private property. Instead, everything is communal, including the houses. In this passage, we learn that every house has two doors which are easy to open, and, most importantly, are never locked. As the passage goes on to say, there is no point in locking your doors when you do not own anything inside of the house. 

This detail is borrowed from Plato's Republic, and reflects the Utopians’ absolute commitment to collective ownership of all resources. The foundation of their society, and its main divergence from all European societies, is the abolition of private property. Hythloday argues that this lack of possessiveness among the Utopians leads to their general trust and neighborliness.

They set great store by their gardens. In them they have vineyards, all manner of fruit, herbs, and flowers, so pleasant, so well furnished, and so finely kept, that I never saw thing more fruitful nor better trimmed in any place.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Garden and the Island
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

The garden is an important symbol in Utopia, representing human work and desire imposed onto, and in harmony with, the natural world. The people of Utopia are hard workers, and they clearly put a great deal of effort into their gardens, keeping them "well furnished" and "trimmed." This symbolizes the Utopian's simultaneous mastery over and respect for the natural world. 

In caring for their gardens so attentively, the Utopians follow the traditions of their country's founder, Utopus, who dedicated himself to gardening.

The focus on the importance of the garden in Utopian society also suggests Paradise, where people live in perfection and happiness, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Utopians are, More is suggesting, closer to Paradise than their proud, warlike counterparts in Europe. The connection between the garden and Paradise is finally strengthened by the fact that Utopia is located off the coast of the New World, that is, the Americas, which Europeans optimistically imagined to be the site of the Garden of Eden.

Book 2: Of Their Trades, and Manner of Life Quotes

Husbandry is a science common to them all [the Utopians] in general, both men and women, where they be all expert and cunning. In this they be all instructed even from their youth, partly in their schools with traditions and precepts, and partly in the country nigh the city, brought up, as it were in playing, not only beholding the use of it, but by occasion of exercising their bodies practising it also.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

Equality in labor is necessary for an equal society, and many hands make light work. As such, all Utopians learn how to farm and tend to animals, in addition to their individual trades. This ensures that everyone in the society has work to fall back on. Additionally, in the case of an emergency like a famine, theoretical and practical knowledge of husbandry would come in handy. 

Learning to farm is not only necessary, but it also has an enjoyable, social component - Utopian children are "brought up" farming "as it were in playing," and in addition to the obvious practicality of the lessons, they treat it like wholesome "exercise."

Now consider with yourself of these few that do work [in countries other than Utopia], how few be occupied in necessary works. For where money beareth all the swing, there many vain and superfluous occupations must needs be used, to serve only for riotous superfluity and unhonest pleasure.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Hythloday draws More's attention to societies outside of Utopia, where not every citizen works, and those that do work tend not to do "necessary work," like farming. This is because these other societies are obsessed with money, which creates a market for superfluous and false pleasures as opposed to necessary, hearty products. 

Because the Utopians have abolished private property, they (supposedly) have no interest in luxury goods, and therefore they have no need for occupations other than those that serve essential functions.

As such, everyone shares the minimal amount of work, and, because everyone works, nobody is forced to work more than anyone else. Note that this does not imply the absence of beauty or art in Utopia—their houses and churches are gorgeous, and they love music—but there seems to be no “art for art’s sake,” as such things are meant primarily as a distracting pleasure, not a way of life valuable in itself.

Book 2: Of Their Traffic Quotes

They [the Utopians] begin every dinner and supper of reading something that pertaineth to good manners and virtue. But it is short, because no man shall be grieved therewith.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Hythloday tells More that all Utopian citizens eat together in large dining halls, as opposed to eating alone in their homes. This is because they appreciate and enjoy their community - a people that live in interchangeable cities tend to act as a group. Before they eat, they listen to a reading of some virtuous text.

The fact that these texts are always very brief is a revealing moment of good humor and practicality—the people of Utopia, practical as they are, understand that it’s hard to focus when one is hungry. They also enrich the necessity of eating with unnecessary, harmless pleasures, squeezing as much enjoyment as they can out of their free time.

Book 2: Of the Travelling of the Utopians Quotes

Gold and silver, whereof money is made, they [the Utopians] do so use as none of them doth more esteem it than the very nature of the thing deserveth. And then who doth not plainly see how far it is under iron, as without the which men can no better live than without fire and water?

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Related Symbols: Gold
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

In these lines, we learn about one of the most striking details of Utopian society: their disdain for gold and other precious metals and gems that European society so cherishes. Hythloday explains that their disdain is born out of practicality: you cannot do much with gold and silver other than make coins and jewelry. Both metals are seen as being infinitely inferior to "iron," which is as essential as "fire and water" to the Utopians. 

The Utopians are attracted to gold, much like Europeans, but they fight their attraction by making only loathsome things out of the metal: chamber pots, fetters for slaves, and jewelry meant to shame wrong-doers. Similarly, Utopians gives precious stones and jewels to their children to play with so that the children will come to think of these things as immature and embarrassing when they are grown. These efforts on the part of the Utopians reveal that they have the same instinctual interest in gold and precious stones, but unlike the Europeans who give into that instinct, the Utopians fight it in the name of a healthy society.  

They [the Utopians] marvel also that gold, which of its own nature is a thing so unprofitable, is now among all people in so high estimation, that man himself, by whom, yea, and for the use of whom, it is so much set by, is in much less estimation than the gold itself.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Related Symbols: Gold
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

The Utopians are well-aware of the status that gold holds in other areas of the world, and they are confounded and disturbed by the fact that a man's life is considered less valuable than gold by many people in other countries. It is imminently practical, as well as humane, for the Utopians to value human life over gold. 

Utopians are also disturbed by the fact that, in many societies, money seems to be a stand-in for virtue and intelligence. In Europe, an idiot will be well-respected if he is rich. This is a perversion of the Utopians' most cherished values of hard work and self-improvement. Instead of working hard and enriching their society, rich men and women are free to be idle and live off the work of others. Thus, introducing gold and money into a society is a poisonous practice as it enables people to avoid work and public service.

The chief and principal question [for the Utopians] is in what thing, be it one or more, the felicity of man consisteth. But in this point they seem almost too much given and inclined to the opinion of them which defend pleasure, wherein they determine either all or the chiefest part of man’s felicity to rest.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Hythloday has been discussing the Utopian position on philosophy. Although they were ignorant of many of the most famous philosophers due to their isolation, the Utopians still managed to come to a lot of the same conclusions. 

The main philosophical question that the Utopians are engaged with, however, is in what "the felicity of man consisteth," or, how best to be happy. Boiled down, the Utopians are hedonists: they believe that pleasure is the most important thing in life. 

Hythloday’s account of Utopian philosophy is notoriously confused. He gently disapproves of the Utopians’ love of pleasure in this passage, yet we later learn that their chief pleasures are of the mind—exercising virtue and good conscience. Hythloday seems too bookish and dry to truly relish intellectual activity as a form of pleasure.

They [the Utopians] embrace chiefly the pleasures of the mind, for them they count the chiefest and most principal of all. The chief part of them they think doth come of the exercise of virtue and conscience of good life.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

Although the Utopians value pleasure above all things, we might be surprised to learn how they define life's greatest pleasures. They feel that the pleasures of the mind are the greatest to be had: virtue, education, and acting in good conscience.

They also feel that a person can become numb to these true pleasures if they are inundated with "false pleasures," which include the ownership of luxury items, gambling, and hunting. This list of false pleasures is meant as a critique of European society, which wrongly considers ownership of these frivolous objects and engagement in harmful practices to be signs of "the good life."

Book 2: Of Their Slaves, and of Their Marriages Quotes

But if the disease [of a Utopian] be not only incurable, but also full of continual pain and anguish, then the priests and the magistrates exhort the man…that he will determine with himself no longer to cherish that pestilent and painful disease…but rather…either dispatch himself out of that painful life, as out of a prison or a rack of torment, or else suffer himself willingly to be rid out of it by other.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, we learn that the Utopian health care system makes allowances for assisted suicide, or euthanasia, in the cases of people suffering from"pestilent and painful" terminal diseases. This is one of the most intriguing moments in the text, especially in light of the ambiguities it raises about More's own opinions on Utopia.

The Utopians’ conception of the public good is not one of ruthless productivity and efficiency—rather, it is one of general welfare and happiness. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Utopians’ health care system, which is centered on availability and excellence of care as well as compassion. Note that the Catholic Church, of which the man Thomas More was a part, strictly prohibits euthanasia as a crime against God’s gift of life. The question arises then (here, as elsewhere): to what extent does the author of Utopia really approve of Utopian policy?

Now and then it chanceth whereas the man and the woman [in a marriage] cannot well agree between themselves, both of them finding other, with whom they hope to live more quietly and merrily, that they by the full consent of them both be divorced asunder and married again to other.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

The Utopian laws concerning marriage and sex are among their most conservative, save for their divorce laws, which are surprisingly lenient, and, as we will see, offer another moment of authorial ambiguity. 

The Utopians strictly punish premarital sex, and they also insist that a man sees his future wife naked before he marries her, under the disturbing logic that one would not buy a horse without having inspected it thoroughly. While these laws are conservative, and, in the second case, sexist and dehumanizing, the Utopian opinion on divorce is surprisingly open. Although it is not common in Utopian society, divorce is allowed and respected, which enables Utopians to find partners that they can live with "more quietly and merrily."

Utopia’s policies concerning divorce are much more liberal than those of More’s England at the time. Indeed, More himself infuriated King Henry VIII when he refused to condone the King’s divorce—a moral stance that ultimately led to More being executed. It is surprising and intriguing that the author of Utopia, a land in which divorce is legal, lost his life defending the eternal sanctity of marriage. 

Book 2: Of Their Military Discipline Quotes

War or battle as a thing very beastly, and yet to no kind of beasts in so much use as to man, they [the Utopians] do detest and abhor. And contrary to the custom almost of all other nations they count nothing so much against glory as glory gotten in war.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Hythloday explains that Utopians "detest and abhor" warfare, and consider it subhuman - it is a beastly activity, and not even wild beasts go to war, after all. To this end, when the Utopians do go to war (and they are prepared to fight - they practice military drills daily, out of practicality) they do not do so to become richer. And, if they do gain by going to war, then they consider their "glories" to be more disgraceful than glorifying.

The reasons that the Utopians will go to war include: settling trade disputes, avenging wrongs, and delivering people from tyranny. Although these motivations sound reasonable, it is strange that Utopians, who value human life more than gold, would kill people over trade disputes. Stranger still that they would not consider the potential fallout of "delivering" an oppressed people. 

Their [the Utopians’] chief and principal purpose in war is to obtain that thing, which if they had before obtained, they would not have moved battle. But if that be not possible, they take so cruel vengeance of them which be in the fault, that ever after they be afeard to do the like.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

The Utopians love health and respect human life, so it makes good sense that they would rather satisfy their objectives through intelligence than through blood. When the Utopians do decide to go to battle, they do not do so to gain spoils or conquer other countries. Instead, they are focused, practical, and controlled - they keep in mind the single object that motivated them to fight in the first place.

To this end, Utopians prefer to "fight dirty," that is, to make use of propaganda and rewards for defectors. These tactics are meant to minimize bloodshed. However, as we see in these lines, sometimes the Utopians are called upon to take "cruel vengeance" on their enemies in an effort to stop further fighting. 

This another moment of ambiguity - history forces us to question whether being cruel to one’s enemies is really an effective policy for deterring future conflict, or whether it only stirs up more anger and strife.

Book 2: Of the Religions of the Utopians Quotes

Though they [the Utopians] be in divers opinions, yet in this point they agree all together with the wisest sort in believing that there is one chief and principal God, the maker and ruler of the world… For every one of them, whatsoever that is which he taketh for the chief God, thinketh it to be the very same nature to whose only divine might and majesty the sum and sovereignty of all things by the consent of all people is attributed and given.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

Religion is the last topic that Hylthloday covers during his and More's discussion on Utopia, and it is one of the most intriguing and ambiguous of the sections. We remember that More, the man, actively fought against religious freedom in his time, and even supported the torture of Protestants.

Utopian society is marked by radical freedom of religion - different citizens are free to worship whichever god they choose without fear of persecution.

This diversity of religious thought is united by a few central tenents, outlined in this passage. They believe that God is eternal, incomprehensible, and inexplicable, dispersed throughout the world as power and virtue. He is the creator of all things and the end of all things. All Utopians, despite diverging opinions on the form God takes, nonetheless agree that there is one chief and principal Supreme Being, the maker and ruler of the world, and this Being they call Mithras (a Persian god, worshipped in Rome as the god of the sun). 

However, the deeper suggestion here is that the Utopians understand all gods to be images of one common truth. (Unsurprisingly, given More’s Catholic convictions, this truth sounds like what’s endorsed by Catholic theology.) The Utopians apparently find the majority’s idea of God most compelling, however, for they are adopting it of their own free will.

He [Utopus] made a decree that it should be lawful for every man to favour and follow what religion he would, and that he might do the best he could to bring other to his opinion, so that he did it peaceably, gently, quietly, and soberly, without hasty and contentious rebuking and inveighing against other.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

Hythloday continues to outline the religious freedom that marks Utopian society. Not only are all religions allowed, and none discriminated against, but the Utopians also are against violent proselytizing (attempting to convert someone to your religion). Here, we learn that Utopians are free to try and convince one another to convert to a different religion so long as they are respectful and "gentle" in their efforts. 

The moment that the conversation turns angry and "contentious," the aggressive party will be punished with exile or bondage. This harsh treatment is, like all things in Utopia, based in practicality. After all, religious tolerance was instituted by Utopus himself when he observed how religious disagreement caused strife among the natives of the island—and was what enabled his conquest of them in the first place. Maintaining that peace requires that no one be bullied into changing their beliefs. 

Thomas More, the man, was a devout Catholic who, during the Reformation, tortured Protestants and approved of burning them at the stake as heretics. It is darkly ironic, then, that his utopian vision should be one in which people who condemn other religions are subject to exile or bondage.

Book 2: Conclusion Quotes

When I consider and weigh in my mind all these commonwealths which nowadays anywhere do flourish, so God help me, I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of commonwealth.

Related Characters: Raphael Hythloday (speaker)
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

In the concluding section of the text, Hythloday begins explicitly comparing Utopia to European society. Here, he claims that Utopia is the best commonwealth in the world, and also the only one worthy of the name "commonwealth," as all things are equal in Utopia.

He then goes on to consider other "flourish[ing]" commonwealths, which he feels are ironically named - after all, they are really just conspiracies "of rich men" who exploit the poor "under the name and title of commonwealth."

The main difference between these sham commonwealths and Utopia is private property and the use of money. By getting rid of money, Hythloday argues, Utopians have pulled up evil by its root. Hythloday relates this to Christ's teachings against private property, which he says that European societies are too prideful to follow.

As I cannot agree and consent to all things that he [Hythloday] said…so must I needs confess and grant that many things be in the Utopian weal-public which in our cities I may rather wish for than hope after.

Related Characters: Thomas More (speaker), Raphael Hythloday
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

At the very end of the text, More invites Hythloday in for dinner and says that they will discuss and evaluate Utopian society at a later time. Here, More tells us that he does not agree with all of Hythloday's points, but that he does wish for many Utopian features to be realized in European society. This can only be a "wish," however, as More feels that it is deeply unrealistic to hope that these changes will be put into effect.

More’s response to Hythloday’s account of Utopia is never presented to us, and so all our questions are left unanswered. This ending adds to the sense of the work as a “joke” or a playful satire, but perhaps the suggestion is also that we as readers are responsible for conducting that dialogue among ourselves. The text requires that we reason for ourselves about Utopia, and what system of governing might be best for an ideal society. This is, after all, the first step we all must take before any utopia can become a reality.

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Raphael Hythloday Character Timeline in Utopia

The timeline below shows where the character Raphael Hythloday appears in Utopia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
Travel, Discovery, and Place Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
...with an old, sunburned, long-bearded, and cloaked stranger from Portugal; this man is named Raphael Hythloday. More takes him to be a mariner. Giles exclaims that he was just about to... (full context)
Travel, Discovery, and Place Theme Icon
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
More, Giles, and Hythloday go to More’s house and sit in the garden where Hythloday tells of his travels.... (full context)
Travel, Discovery, and Place Theme Icon
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
More and Giles are especially curious about how the peoples Hythloday encountered are governed, and they ask him many questions on this point. More is also... (full context)
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Peter Giles is so impressed by Hythloday that he strongly encourages him to go into the service of a prince as his... (full context)
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More, for his part, encourages Hythloday to go into a prince’s service not for wealth but to contribute to the public... (full context)
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More asks Hythloday if he’s been to England. Hythloday says he has, and he stayed there for four... (full context)
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One day, while sitting at Cardinal Morton’s table, Hythloday fell into discussion with a cunning lawyer concerning English law. The lawyer praises the rigorous... (full context)
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Hythloday claims, moreover, that he’s not just referring to people who can’t work because they’ve been... (full context)
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Hythloday continues: once these serving men’s lords die, or once they themselves fall ill and are... (full context)
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...to be, and they make up the whole strength of the English army as such. Hythloday agrees that, when such out-of-work serving men don’t become thieves, they do tend to become... (full context)
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Moreover, Hythloday observes that in all nations, but especially in France, having a standing army in peacetime... (full context)
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Hythloday introduces a second cause of thievery in England. For the sake of reaping huge profits... (full context)
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The decay of farming causes yet other problems, in Hythloday’s account: food shortages and a spike in the price of wool, which makes it so... (full context)
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Making matters even worse, according to Hythloday, is the fact that beggary and poverty are often accompanied by debauched drinking, decadent excess,... (full context)
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The lawyer tediously claims he will answer Hythloday, promising to rehearse each of his points in order and then counter all of Hythloday’s... (full context)
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Instead, Cardinal Morton asks Hythloday how he thinks thieves should be punished, if not by death. Hythloday responds that a... (full context)
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Hythloday then turns to how thieves should be punished. He points out that the Romans punished... (full context)
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Furthermore, Hythloday says, the serving men among the Polylerites are distinguished from other citizens by the common... (full context)
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Hythloday concludes that the Polylerites’ treatment of thieves is much more humane than England’s. He thinks... (full context)
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Hythloday then tells More and Giles about a joker at Cardinal Morton’s table who tried to... (full context)
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One person at Cardinal Morton’s table says that, thanks to the proposals of Hythloday and the Cardinal, both thieves and vagabonds are taken care of in England—all that remains... (full context)
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...end, sends the fool away, changes the subject, and soon after dismisses all his company. Hythloday says that this story suggests how little courtiers would value his counsel. (full context)
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Hythloday pardons himself for telling Thomas More and Peter Giles such a long tale. He says... (full context)
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More thanks Hythloday for his tale, which was especially pleasant for him because he served Cardinal Morton in... (full context)
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Hythloday does not agree with More. He says that, unless kings themselves study philosophy seriously, they... (full context)
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Hythloday even has an example in mind for his hypothetical French king to follow, which he... (full context)
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Hythloday returns to his earlier question: how would the hypothetical French king receive his counsel, that... (full context)
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Hythloday then imagines what cunning, vicious things his fellow counselors might advise the king to do:... (full context)
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Hythloday goes on to say that poverty is not the mother of peace so much as... (full context)
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Hythloday introduces a law of the (fictional) people called the Macarians (from the Greek meaning “happy... (full context)
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Hythloday concludes, at last, that his counsel could only fall on deaf ears in a king’s... (full context)
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Hythloday responds that playing such a crafty counselor would just make him as bad as everyone... (full context)
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Hythloday speculates that no nation with private property or money can ever be justly governed. This... (full context)
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More questions Hythloday as to whether or not people will really work at all without the incentive of... (full context)
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...and that their nations are even more ancient and experienced in governance than the Utopians’. Hythloday responds that there were cities in Utopia before there were people in the Netherlands. He... (full context)
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To demonstrate the Utopians’ excellence, Hythloday tells a story. According to the Utopian chronicles, some 1,200 years ago certain Romans and... (full context)
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Thomas More asks Hythloday to describe the island of Utopia in great detail, from its geography to its cities... (full context)
Book 2: Discourse on Utopia
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Hythloday begins his discourse on the island of Utopia by describing its geography. The island itself... (full context)
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Utopia was not always an island, Hythloday says, nor was it always called Utopia. Its first name was Abraxa, perhaps meaning “Holy... (full context)
Book 2: Of Their Towns, Particularly of Amaurote
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The cities of Utopia are almost identical, Hythloday says: if you know one, you know them all. Amaurote seems to be the worthiest... (full context)
Book 2: Of Their Magistrates
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As has been said, Hythloday continues, every group of thirty families or farms in Utopia annually elects an officer to... (full context)
Book 2: Of Their Trades, and Manner of Life
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Hythloday now discusses the work done in Utopia. As has been said, everyone develops expertise, both... (full context)
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...waste their money on bad, dishonest pleasures. If everyone in society worked hard and productively, Hythloday says, no one would be overworked. (full context)
Book 2: Of Their Traffic
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Hythloday now turns to how Utopians interact with one another. Cities consist of families, mostly made... (full context)
Book 2: Of the Travelling of the Utopians
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...is useful and essential for life. People only value gold and silver out of folly, Hythloday says, because it is rare. To prevent people from hoarding gold or becoming attached to... (full context)
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Hythloday proceeds to tell a funny story about three ambassadors of the Anemolians (from the Greek... (full context)
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...their spare hours on learning. The Utopians were not familiar with many famous philosophers until Hythloday introduced them, but they already knew much of what the famous philosophers teach concerning music,... (full context)
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Hythloday comments now that the Utopians are the most excellent people in the world, and that... (full context)
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When Hythloday exposed the Utopians to Greek literature and philosophy (he didn’t think they would care much... (full context)
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...of things that are to the advantage and enrichment of human life. They owe to Hythloday and his fellow travelers the crafts of printing and of making paper, by which they’ve... (full context)
Book 2: Of Their Slaves, and of Their Marriages
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Slavery in Utopia, Hythloday explains, is a punishment for those Utopians who have committed “heinous offenses.” Utopia also pays... (full context)
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The Utopians have one custom that Hythloday finds foolish: they show a woman naked to her prospective husband before marriage. Who would... (full context)
Book 2: Of the Religions of the Utopians
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Hythloday turns now to his last topic: the religions in Utopia. All over the island, and... (full context)
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When Hythloday and his companions introduced Christ’s doctrine, laws, and miracles to the Utopians, a surprising number... (full context)
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...tolerant of all religions, but they do not permit people to condemn other religions. In Hythloday’s presence, one newly baptized Utopian began to condemn as wicked and devilish all religions but... (full context)
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...power so much as one of honor, anyway. Utopian priests are also deeply respected abroad; Hythloday recalls how in battle the priests protect enemy combatants from being slaughtered when the Utopians... (full context)
Book 2: Conclusion
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Hythloday says that he has described as truly as possible the form and order of Utopia,... (full context)
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Indeed, Hythloday sees in most nations a conspiracy by which rich people exploit and oppress the poor.... (full context)
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Thus ends Hythloday’s tale. Thomas More thinks to himself that many Utopian laws and policies are founded on... (full context)
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Consequently, More praises the Utopians and leads Hythloday back into the house for dinner, saying that they will examine and evaluate the Utopians’... (full context)