Jackson Creek Middle School
Utopia has many definitions, but many individuals agree when the word was first used in writing. Plato was a student of the Greek philosopher Socrates. During the 4th century B.C. in Athens, Plato wrote the Republic as an outline for a perfect world. In Plato's perfect world, people were governed by wise thinkers or philosopher-kings. In this perfect world, all people acted justly. There was no crime or injustice in the world. Plato had his characters in the Republic ask the questions of "what is justice and why should someone act in a just way?"
1. Define utopia.
2. What is the etymology (origin) of the word, utopia?
3. Who wrote the Republic, the first written work that described an utopian world?
4. How was Plato's perfect world governed?
In 1516, Sir Thomas More wrote Utopia. In this book, Sir Thomas More (a character in the book who was named after the author) and Peter Giles meet a traveler, Raphael Hythloday. Raphael has traveled to an island of Utopia. In this imaginary island, people did not work for a king, but for each other. All men and women worked together on farms and only worked for six hours a day. They wore clothing that they made and they did not have any personal wealth or property. All money went to group. Private property did not exist. People worked together for the good of everyone.
5. What career did Thomas More have when he wrote Utopia?
6. How did Thomas More die?
7. What kind of work does the people of Utopia do and for whom?
8. How was Utopia by Sir Thomas More different from the Republic?
Even though Utopia was only a story, people believed there could be a place like Utopia. Many people used the title of More's book, Utopia, to mean any idealistic community. Some people began to write other stories about an utopian or idealistic community. Some writers wrote about how society needed to work together for the good of the group and not as individual for personal rewards. Writers like George Orwell who wrote 1984 or Francis Bacon who wrote New Atlantis looked at the good and bad of utopian societies. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Thomas Hardy's Tess of D'Urbervilles are also considered stories that consider how idealistic communities effect individuals.
9. Define individual.
10. Define society.
11. What is the difference between individual and society?
12. Name one author whose literature deals with utopian ideas.
Not only in fiction, but in life people believed utopian societies could exist. In the late 1800's, Robert Owen created utopian communities or communal societies. These communities were near mills that Owen owned in Scotland. These communities had good houses, safe schools, and community owned stores. All the money earned was used for the community. Owen also began communial societies in the United States. In Indiana, Owen created New Harmony. Unlike Owen's communial societies in Scotland, New Harmony attracted teachers, students and scientists to live there. Eventually, the residents of New Harmony began to argue with one another and the community closed.
13. Define communal.
14. How is communal living different from Communism?
15. What do members of a communal society value?
16. How was New Harmony community different from the Scotland communal societies?
14. Write down where each of these communal societies are located.
15. Choose two communal societies and list 3 differences between the two.
16. List 3 similarities between the two.
Garbis, Michelle. A Now Utopia: Differences. 18 April 2005 [http://www.teachnlearn.org/Utopia.html].
Link, Theodore. Communism: A Primary Source Analysis. New York: Rosen, 2005.
Back to Class Assignments
JCMS Library Home Page
Last Updated: 04/18/05
Kristina McGlaun, Librarian
Jackson Creek Middle School