Though Thomas More and Plato both had visions of a perfect world, their ideas of what would constitute such varied quite a bit, as demonstrated by how different the location of each of their utopias was. Not only did the placement of the utopias effect how they were physically portrayed, but additionally gave insight into how each community was to function.
When comparing the two utopias, the first aspect that should be taken into consideration is the literal, physical one. In this regard, the two are not very different. More’s interpretation of a utopia includes the society being distanced from all other populations by way of a barrier. Though the utopia itself is described as an “island… in the middle two hundred miles broad [of ocean],” it was originally landlocked, and the people residing in it were required to help dig a fifteen mile trench to keep it isolated (More, 28.) The republic that Plato describes in his novel functions similarly, based on how it too relies on solidarity to maintain a perfect state. The citizens of Plato’s utopia essentially invaded a city and banished anyone over the age of twelve, thus eliminating those who they did not deem an exact fit for their society.
This examination the physical structure of each utopia additionally tells the reader a lot about how these utopias function. Plato’s utopia, which is based on intelligence and learning more than anything, is exclusive. No matter how enlightened and able to contribute to society one may have been, if they were above a certain age, they were banished with no room to dispute such. On the other hand, More’s utopia is quite broad, and allows everyone an equal chance to prove their worth. Though this utopia did choose to isolate themselves, everyone within the community was given opportunity to excel because all trades were valued the same. This fairness was not present nearly as much in Plato’s utopia, where the intelligent ruled over those who weren’t considered to be so, and one could not achieve the title of a philosopher king unless they were successful in both arithmetic and dialect.
Physical descriptions of places may not strike anyone as largely informative, but by dissecting them one can unveil a variety of telling information. For example, through understanding that Plato’s utopia came to be through by forcing those deemed unintelligent away, the reader can begin to grasp that intelligence and a hierarchy of such is prominent in this utopia. More’s utopia- an island maintained by all of the community- focuses on both equal rights and an equal chance to succeed. It’s impossible to say which utopia is better because that’s a matter of opinion, but by analyzing the physical structure of both and the ideals that went hand in hand with such, the differences (and similarities) between the two were clearly defined.