Utopia

Gold Symbol Icon

In Utopia, gold represents the goal and prize of human pride and domination. Rich men and women adorn themselves with it to prove their superiority to others; thieves and princes exploit others to get it; nations send men out to fight and die for it. And all this occurs despite the fact that gold is, practically speaking, useless. The Utopians, in contrast to their European counterparts, loathe gold, even though they don’t by any means lack it. The Utopians even fetter their slaves with gold to shame them, just as people in other societies symbolically fetter themselves to their own lust for gold. Ultimately More presents gold as a proud, idle metal: nothing useful comes of it, and it can’t be made into anything useful. We might think, as the Utopians no doubt do, that any society that considers gold to be valuable is a wicked society indeed. Raphael Hythloday, for one, would agree; he thinks that the principle condition which gives rise to gold-lust is the institution of private property, which in his account turns people into ravenous getters and debauched spenders. The Utopians, however, have killed pride and idleness by abolishing private property. When everyone has what they need, materially and spiritually, they have no need of vain superfluities like gold.

Gold Quotes in Utopia

The Utopia quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gold. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Utopia published in 2009.
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:

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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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Gold Symbol Timeline in Utopia

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gold appears in Utopia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
...rich Roman Crassus says, a prince who must maintain an army can never have enough gold, and a prince can never do an injustice, because all men are his already. Poverty,... (full context)
Travel, Discovery, and Place Theme Icon
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Property, Labor, and Utopian Society Theme Icon
The Public Good, Virtue, and Religion Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
...The Macarians do not permit their king to have more than a thousand pounds of gold or silver in his treasury, and by this measure they make sure that he enriches... (full context)
Book 2: Of the Travelling of the Utopians
Property, Labor, and Utopian Society Theme Icon
The Public Good, Virtue, and Religion Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
...is sold at a reasonable, low price. By this means, the Utopians bring back both gold and silver as well as those resources they lack, which is virtually only iron. (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Property, Labor, and Utopian Society Theme Icon
The Public Good, Virtue, and Religion Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
The Utopians value gold and silver far less than iron, because iron is useful and essential for life. People... (full context)
Travel, Discovery, and Place Theme Icon
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Property, Labor, and Utopian Society Theme Icon
The Public Good, Virtue, and Religion Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
...then, the three ambassadors, accompanied by a hundred servants, dressed in gorgeous silks and dazzling gold jewelry and precious stones—only for the Utopians to mistake the ambassadors’ servants for lords and... (full context)
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Property, Labor, and Utopian Society Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
The Utopians wonder why anyone would be enamored of gold when they have the stars to gaze upon. They think it absurd that in many... (full context)
Book 2: Of Their Military Discipline
Bad Governance, Pride, and Idleness Theme Icon
Property, Labor, and Utopian Society Theme Icon
The Public Good, Virtue, and Religion Theme Icon
Ideals and Practicality Theme Icon
The Ambiguities of Utopia Theme Icon
...fight “dirty” in war: they distribute pamphlets among their enemy’s population, promising substantial rewards of gold and land to anyone who kills or captures their enemy’s prince and other proclaimed adversaries—alive... (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
...that they aren’t deployed in war unless the need arises. Instead, the Utopians store up gold, silver, and debt abroad for virtually one purpose alone: to avoid war altogether, or to... (full context)