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Utopia Summary

Thomas More is a public servant living in London with his family. He writes a letter to a friend in Antwerp (Belgium) named Peter Giles. Giles is a printer and editor, as well as a clerk for the city. In More's letter, we read that More is sending Utopia to Giles for editing and publication. Utopia chronicles a conversation that More and Giles enjoyed with a man named Raphael Hythloday. Thomas More and Peter Giles are real persons. In Utopia, they are fictionalized. Their mutual acquaintance, Raphael Hythloday, is entirely invented and fictional. In Book One, Utopia recounts the initial meeting of Hythloday, More and Giles. Book One introduces Hythloday and vaguely mentions the New World island of Utopia. More visits Giles in Antwerp, and this is when Giles introduces Hythloday to More. Hythloday is a Portuguese man who sailed to the New World with the Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci. Hythloday stayed behind in the New World and travelled to a few additional locations, eventually making his way back home to Europe. During these travels, Hythloday became acquainted with the Utopians. The three men make their way back to More's lodging place in the city and they enjoy a conversation in the garden. Hythloday is quite a talker; More and Giles can barely get a word in edgewise. Hythloday gives his opinions on a wide range of topics. Having toured Europe, Hythloday believes that many of the Utopian customs are morally superior to European customs. Hythloday especially focuses on political and economic issues (the distribution of labor, capital punishment for thieves, land reform, the abolition of private property). Hythloday's arguments are rather surprising and the Utopian society is quite unlike the European commonwealths. Neither More nor Giles professes deep belief in or total support of Utopian policies. Nonetheless, both men are interested in hearing more about the island nation. The three men break for lunch and Book Two chronicles the continuation of Hythloday's presentation, in which he presents the details of Utopia. Book Two is a long commentary on Hythloday's part,where he describes Utopian history, geography, social customs, legal and political systems, economic structures, religious beliefs and philosophy. Some general Utopus conquered and civilized the area, giving the land and the people his name. As a demonstration of mastery over nature, Utopus formed the land into an island, organizing a labor force that cut through the thin isthmus connected Utopus from the rest of the continent. Hythloday notes that the Utopians have retained many of the plans and values initially established by Utopus. The rulers are selected from the order of scholars. Language, social customs, religion, dress, architecture and education are identical in Utopia's fifty-four cities. There is a large degree of uniformity and very little individual expression. Laws and social customs heavily regulate the private decisions of individuals. A child is re-assigned to another household if the child wishes to learn a trade other than his or her father's. Households are composed of extended families, but family members can be relocated to other households if the distribution of adults per household becomes uneven within a given city. In terms of natural geography, the Utopians have capitalized on their natural resources. The capital city, Amaurot, is in the center of the island. The city is a major trade port, sitting on the banks of the Anyder River. Hythloday's depiction indicates that Amaurot is an improved London and the Anyder River is a cleaner version of the Thames River. The Utopians are a morally developed people though they are not Christians. Hythloday mentions that the Utopians were eager to hear more about Christianity and that many Utopians had already converted. Most Utopians are monotheists and their religion is similar to Christianity. Some of the Utopians' beliefs run counter to the moral traditions of the Christian church (e.g. the Utopians encourage euthanasia when the patient is terminally ill). The Utopians believe that pride is the root of great evils. Accordingly, the Utopians have eliminated wealth, the nobility, private property, and currency. Labor and goods are distributed equally. Property is held in common. Everyone works the same hours and even though the rulers are exempt from public labour, they work to set a good example for the others. Work hours are equally distributed and there are no monasteries, convents, alehouses, or academies where in an individual might withdraw from the rest of society. All Utopians are socially productive. Utopia ends with another letter from More to Giles. In the letter, More positively reflects upon the initial reactions to the published work Utopia. More also gives the reader enough jokes and puns to fix the idea that Utopia is an imagined and unreal place. The writer has presented Utopia as an entertaining way to stir contemplation of serious issues. As such, the book is "medicine smeared with honey."

William Shakespeare scarcely needs an introduction. Born in 1564, he was an English playwright, poet, actor, favourite dramatist of queens and kings, inventor of words, master of drama, and arguably the most famous writer of all time. In his 36 plays and 154 sonnets, he left behind the evidence of a brilliant mind, a wicked sense of humor, a deep sensitivity to human emotions, and a rich classical education. We know all about his work. But what do we know about the man?
In the 400 or so years since Shakespeare died on his 52nd birthday in 1616, there have been plenty of rumors about the Bard and the personal experiences that may have inspired his works. Some of these explanations may well be true; others are pure falsehood. We don't know much about Shakespeare's inner world—he left behind no tell-all confessionals—but we know a lot about his outer world, and that is perhaps even more important to understanding his genius. Shakespeare came of age during the Renaissance, a flourishing of arts, culture, and thought that took place in the middle of the last millennium. All across Western Europe, ideas on everything from God to the nature of the universe were shifting. In England, it was a time of great literary and dramatic achievement, encouraged by Queen Elizabeth I and her successor James I. It was the perfect environment for a gifted dramatist to thrive.
Shakespeare changed the English language, inventing dozens of new words we still use today. His plays have been translated into more than 80 other tongues and performed in dozens of countries, where diverse audiences all still recognize the timeless elements of the human experience as depicted by a young Englishman 400 years ago. Information about the life of William Shakespeare is often open to doubt. Some even doubt whether he wrote all plays ascribed to him. From the best available sources it seems William Shakespeare was born in Stratford on-Avon about April 23rd 1564. His father William was a successful local businessman and his mother Mary was the daughter of a landowner. Relatively prosperous, it is likely the family paid for William`s education, although there is no evidence he attended university. In 1582 William, aged only 18, married an older woman named Anne Hathaway. Soon after they had their first daughter, Susanna, they had other two children but William’s only son Hamnet died aged only 11. After his marriage, information about the life of Shakespeare is sketchy but it seems he spent most of his time in London writing and performing in his plays. It seemed he didn’t mind being absent from his family – only returning home during Lent when all theatres were closed. It is generally thought that during the 1590s he wrote the majority of his sonnets. This was a time of prolific writing and his plays developed a good deal of interest and controversy. Due to some well timed investments he was able to secure a firm financial background, leaving time for writing and acting. The best of these investments was buying some real estate near Stratford in 1605, which soon doubled in value. Some academics known as the “Oxfords” claim that Shakespeare never actually wrote any plays, they suggest other names such as Edward de Vere. They contend Shakespeare was actually just a successful businessman. Nevertheless there is some evidence of Shakespeare in theatres as he received a variety of criticism from people such as Ben Johnson and Robert Greene.

Date: 2015-02-16; view: 1684

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