Hythloday's Influence On Religion

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The art of using fiction as a medium to convey controversial philosophical ideas or critiques of powerful institutions, without having to take direct responsibility as an author, has been used by writers for centuries. Sir Thomas More, for instance, did just this with his 1517 work Utopia, as he created a satirical, ambiguous narrative to make a critique of 16th century English culture and its values and customs in several direct aspects. The narrative is focalized through a traveling storyteller, known as Hythloday, as he retells his observations and experiences regarding the communal lifestyle on the island of Utopia. The work of fiction is divided into two books, the second of which is broken up into sections to detail specific elements…show more content…
As a prominent English humanist, More wrote Utopia with an intended audience of other important, educated individuals who might hold some degree of power or influence. While the work was exceptionally absurd and impractical in terms reality, the blatant juxtaposition it assumed would have likely forced readers to stop and contemplate the order of their social and political systems in contrast to More’s new, fictional model. By comparing aspects of Utopian religion as they mirrored, slightly altered from, or were disparate from the beliefs of the English church, More makes a profound philosophical inquiry about both misinterpretations and representations of the Bible and religious hypocrisy, but also demonstrates the inescapable social and political issues that will always exist in a society with…show more content…
Through “Utopia” he carefully crafts an argument for this reform by creating the Utopian’s belief system in a way that is is similar enough to Christianity to be relatable for his readers, but also different enough so that readers are forced to challenge their own ingrained beliefs and ideals. In this fictional society More upholds fundamental elements of Christianity, like the existence of a singular, almighty God as, like Christians, the majority of Utopians believe in a “single power, unknown, eternal, infinite…and diffused throughout the universe, not physically, but in influence”(More 634). Qualities that are associated with classical doctrine and depictions of God like sovereignty, etherealness, and omniscience are retained in the Utopian’s beliefs. However, while these ideas are associated with the divine, they are not limited to the Christian interpretation of God and are instead attributed to an entity called “Mithra”, a divine being that’s meaning is interpreted by each individual(More 635). Such an idea would directly correlate with humanist principles, as it suggests that each person has their own valuable interpretations to make about the divine, without straying from the fundamental principles of faith. Furthermore, More also keeps particular rituals in place, like confession, with the exception that “wives kneel before their
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