Utopia: Novel Summary: Book II - Of their towns, particularly of Amaurot
All of the towns in Utopia are identical, so it is sufficient to describe the main one, Amaurot, in order to know all of them. Amaurot is near the river Anider, the head of which is fortified lest any enemy try to poison the water supply. The town is surrounded by a wall and a ditch full of briars, for defense. The streets are twenty feet wide and the houses are terraced (in a row and joined to one another), three stories high, and identical to one another. Each has a rear garden full of flowers, fruits and vegetables. The inhabitants of different streets compete with each other to create the best gardens. Every ten years, the residents change houses by lot.
To some modern readers, the uniformity of the houses and their arrangement in long terraces may seem boring or even inhuman. But in fact, just such a housing system was adopted on a massive scale in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in British cities, to house the great influx of people moving from the country to urban areas during the industrial revolution. These houses have on the whole proved a great popular success, and because of this they have survived government planners' attempts to replace them during at least two periods in recent history.
Thomas More's early espousal of this system of housing is a testament to his far-sightedness (it took two hundred years after Utopia was published before this housing design was 'invented' and widely implemented) and his instinctive sympathy with ordinary people.
Utopia Study GuideChoose to Continue
- Novel Summary
- Book I
- Book II - Geographical features of Utopia and agriculture
- Book II - Of their towns, particularly of Amaurot
- Book II - Of their magistrates
- Book II - Of their trades, and manner of life
- Book II - Of their traffic
- Book II - Of the traveling of the Utopians
- Book II - Of their slaves, and of their marriages
- Book II - Of their military discipline
- Book II - Of the religions of the Utopians
- Character Profiles
- Metaphor Analysis
- Top Ten Quotes
- Essay Q&A