Utopia

Cardinal John Morton Character Analysis

Cardinal John Morton is an honorable, prudent, and virtuous old man when he appears in Utopia, as well as the Archbishop and Cardinal of Canterbury and the Lord Chancellor of England—just as he was in real life. Both in fact and fiction, Thomas More served as a household page for Morton while still a boy, and he deeply respects his former master. We meet the Cardinal in Book I of Utopia, when Raphael Hythloday describes a conversation he had at the Cardinal’s table about certain laws and policies in England. Although the Cardinal proves to be eloquent, open-minded, and tolerant of a joke here and there, it becomes apparent that the other men at his table are impudent flatterers. That such a virtuous man tolerates such bad company suggests how quietly private interests can infiltrate human governments.
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Cardinal John Morton Character Timeline in Utopia

The timeline below shows where the character Cardinal John Morton appears in Utopia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
Travel, Discovery, and Place Theme Icon
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
...down in 1497. Hythloday spent much of his time in England in the company of Cardinal John Morton, whom More served as a page in boyhood and whom Hythloday describes as... (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
One day, while sitting at Cardinal Morton’s table, Hythloday fell into discussion with a cunning lawyer concerning English law. The lawyer... (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
...rehearse each of his points in order and then counter all of Hythloday’s arguments. However, Cardinal Morton cuts him off: he doesn’t want to listen to such verbosity, and would rather... (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
Instead, Cardinal Morton asks Hythloday how he thinks thieves should be punished, if not by death. Hythloday... (full context)
Travel, Discovery, and Place Theme Icon
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
...would fall into danger; he says no more, but everyone present agrees with him except Cardinal Morton. The Cardinal says proof is needed to decide either way, but he is sympathetic... (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
Hythloday then tells More and Giles about a joker at Cardinal Morton’s table who tried to say witty things as a professional fool might, but more... (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
One person at Cardinal Morton’s table says that, thanks to the proposals of Hythloday and the Cardinal, both thieves... (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
...being patient. The friar maintains that he is angry but that he is not sinning. Cardinal Morton calms the friar and tells him not to debase his intelligence by arguing with... (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
...though his companions wanted to hear it all. He points out that all present at Cardinal Morton’s table that day disagreed with his views on punishment until the Cardinal approved them,... (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
The Public Good, Virtue, and Religion Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
More thanks Hythloday for his tale, which was especially pleasant for him because he served Cardinal Morton in his boyhood. More confesses that he hasn’t changed his mind on one point,... (full context)