Utopia Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Utopia: Character Profiles

Average Overall Rating: 5
Total Votes: 235

More:  The character of More is the narrator, but should not be assumed to express the views of the author Thomas More. By putting fictional versions of himself and other real-life characters into Utopia, Thomas More lent veracity to his story of an ideal state. More's function is to bring out Hythloday's account of Utopia by means of his curious questioning and to act as an interested but rather skeptical and conservative-minded critic of the Utopian way of government.
Throughout Book I, More urges Hythloday to become an advisor to a king and influence government, even if this means compromising his ideals somewhat. More represents the voice of compromise in the interests of political involvement, in comparison to Hythloday, who represents the idealist who refuses to compromise and will take no part in government.
Raphael Hythloday:  Hythloday is the only entirely fictional character in the book: unlike the others, he has no real-life counterpart. His name is taken from the Greek meaning "speaker of nonsense," which both affirms his fictionality and safely distances the author Thomas More from his radical creation. Hythloday is a seafaring traveler who discovered Utopia. His function is to describe Utopia's superior system of government to More and Peter Giles. Hythloday resists More and Peter Giles's suggestions that he should become an advisor to a king because he refuses to compromise his ideals, as he would have to do if he worked for a corrupt government. The price of his idealism is that he will never influence the political process for the better because he does not engage with it.
Peter Giles and Cardinal John Morton:  Peter Giles and Cardinal Morton are characters drawn from real life, though the fictional characters should not be assumed to express the views of their real-life counterparts. The real Giles was Thomas More's friend and helped to get Utopia published. Thomas More grew up in the real Cardinal Morton's household. Morton became Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII.
The role of these characters in Utopia is to listen to Hythloday's accounts of the more enlightened governments he has encountered on his travels and to express interest in them. The character of Cardinal Morton gives a particularly positive response to alternative criminal justice systems. In doing so, he exposes the hypocrisy of the influential people in government who are dining with him, who had been dismissive of Hythloday's ideas until the powerful Cardinal showed them favor. They instantly echo the Cardinal's enthusiasm in order to flatter him.
Lawyer:  This unnamed character spends an evening at Cardinal Morton's house and boasts of the efficiency of English justice for hanging so many thieves.
Utopus:  Utopus is the wise founder of Utopia. He conquered the inhabitants of the land on which Utopia is now situated. He physically separated the isthmus from the mainland by digging a channel, and set up the Utopian state.


Quotes: Search by Author