Utopia: writing workshop and short extract study

Gutten tag! (I’m sorry, just getting a little sleepy…)

cosy_bar_by_adamkuczek-d5ojg4s

Since we talked about Thomas More in class, our teacher gave us an extract from Utopia that we shortly studied…And we also had a GREAT new writing workshop!

(Here‘s the extract)

Question:

1) What is at stake in this extract?

The punishment of thieves is at stake in this extract: when one is caught, he is hanged. Because of poverty, people had no choice but to rob.

2) What are the two character’s position on the subject?

The English lawyer seems to thinks it’s an adequate punishment for thieves. However, he does not understand why there are still so many of them left.

Hythloday has a widely different opinion on the subject: He believes the death penalty isn’t right. It’s not by killing people that the problem will be solved. It just denounces how much people are stricken by misery. He also states that fear cannot restrain someone from stealing: no matter what he does or doesn’t attend, his life is at stake.

3) To what extend is this a topical issue?

Today, the death penalty is still an issue in many countries, including in some states of the US. It’s applied for greater criminality but a human being’s life is still taken.

So that was the short study part…Ready for the writing workshop? I worked with a classmate (Don’t know her blog, sorry) and basically, we had to continue the dialog between the English lawyer and Hythloday. We had to act it out in front of our other classmates and our teacher. (BTW: I was playing the English lawyer…So yeah, I guess I was the bad guy!)

E.L: “Have you Heard the news? Twenty-one thieves were hanged yersterday! Judges didn’t think twice about it…Do you find it severe?

H: Excuse me, yeah, you over there! May I speak my mind?”

The English lawyers raised their eye-brows.One of them stood up and said:

E.L: ” And who are you to speak in such a bold way?

H: Hythloday, humanist and humble servant of arts and knowledge.

E.L: Well, that is quite unusual, would you see that! Some filthy traveler has set his mind onto politics! This seems amusing…

H: I’m a man with as much dignity as you; it’s quite improper for a British lawyer to say such things, you should know how harsh those punishments are for a simple thief!

E.L: Well Mr Hythloday, what do you suggest then? Should we hang their families instead…Or reward them? ” Answered he with a smirk in his voice.

H: “If a thief dies for stealing, what will happen to him if he dares suppress a human life? Will you burn him alive, tear his body apart? Thieves aren’t the problem here, poverty is and if you get to the roots of the problem, political choices are what’s wrong!

E.L: ‘Tis a very dangerous thing to say around here; your life may be holding by a threat. And be sure that the royals have nor time nor money to dedicate to those low classes. It would be such a waste! We’re not talking about citizens here, we’re dealing with parasites!”

Hythloday added quietly: “One day, you’ll be enlightened about this situation; the world will change. If you cannot grant life to an innocent who died, don’t take away the life of a sinner who lives.

E.L: The world will change when thieves will know better or pay properly for their sins!”

The end : ) Hope you enjoyed it and don’t forget to leave comments and subscribe to the blog!

(picture credit: AdamKuczek– no copyright infringement intended; for educational purposes)

 

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Thomas and his “Utopia”

Hi…Again!

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Basically, this post is meant to tell you a little bit more about Thomas More and his “Utopia” written in 1516.

Thomas More: was a British politician and writer from the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century. He’s the one who came up with the word “utopia”, giving it as a title for his novel in 1516. Unfortunately, he was beheaded…

Utopia (1516): is a – Utopian – novel written just before the English Reformation. Its narrator Hythloday confronts his opinion with others during his travels and denounces – indirectly of course – feudalism and religious intolerance.

Ok…So that’s the very basic information. The teacher gave us a question about the vision of the author so I wrote some kind of mini essay look-alike which will surely enlighten you as to who More is really and what’s his vision like. (I have never been doing a structured essay or anything like that so please, don’t stone me if it’s not quite right!)

Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) is often considered as the first British Humanist. Educated in a monastery, he combined classical learning and intellectual curiosity with the religious faith and loyalty of the medieval times. He was a lawyer, a writer, a statesman and at some point was appointed chancellor of England. In 1513, More wrote “History of Richard III”, mostly for political reasons, but his most famous work is without a doubt “Utopia”, published in 1516. The novel was originally written in Latin (it was later published in English) and was a success in Great Britain. In it, More describes a perfect society living according to Humanist’s principles.

How do Thomas More’s vision of social systems and practices compare with those of his own time?

In his first volume, More evokes the drastic economical and moral situation of England. He denounces rack-rents, the extravagance of wealthy classes and an unjust judicial system, too harsh for poor people. The author condemns social gaps and poverty. However, we can notice he is very careful not to criticize Henry VIII by making the story take place twelve years before his reign.

The second part tells about Utopia (which literally means “no place”). More talks about some mythological golden age which also refers to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden before the original fall. Utopia is described as an ideal land giving abundant fruits. There, man creates a society relying on reason and antique values. Aristocracy and social classes don’t exist anymore: everybody is ranked the same and works to make the country prosper. Privileges have also been abolished and everybody has an equal share of property which is switched every ten years. Gold ans such riches despised ans kept to pay foreign mercenaries in case a war breaks out. Marriage is encouraged but unfaithfulness and prostitution are severely condemned. However, divorces and remarriages are allowed, even for women. In such a society, they are valued and have the same access to education as men. They can even become priests.

To conclude, we could see that More brings some answers to his society’s problems through Utopia. Some of the ideas are applicable (concerning education for women for instance) but most of them seem out of reach (suppressing social classes for example). Still, this novel is a proof of the author’s very modern principles and a strong statement against women’s discrimination and poverty.

Do you want to find out more about utopia? Check this video out!

That’s it for now, have a great evening …Or morning, depending on where you are : )

(picture credit: Zippo514– no copyright infringement intended; for educational purposes)

Introduction to Imaginary worlds

narniawardrobe

Hello guys!

Ok…I know it’s been SUCH a long time since I posted anything (Almost 6 months…Shame’s here, I guarantee!) but with the summer holidays and my exams coming up this year…Well, I got a tiny bit lazy. Still, I was so happy to see the blog still had some viewers : )  (Finally had viewers from Hong-Kong and South Korea but have no idea if they understood anything…)

Okay so basically, being back in school means I get to have some English literature lessons and you get to have some new posts!

So…Let me see…We started a new theme in September: Imaginary worlds. It’s pretty awesome when you think about it and we focused on utopias… (Happily, our English teacher is merciful and did not talk about Gargantua!)

The word “Utopia” comes from the Greek “υ-τοπος” which literally means “nowhere”. It was the name given to something which would be absolutely perfect and was used very often as a political tool. It’s literary purpose was also to underline the imperfections of the society.

For thousands of years, men imagined wonderful utopias in response to their society’s struggles such as religious tensions, persecutions, dictatorships, poverty, inequalities…And the list goes on.

The main questions raised concerning this topic were: “Can literature contribute to making a utopia come true?” , “How do writers respond to the world they live in?”, “When they disagree or dream of change, do they act within society’s rules or against them?”

We talked a little bit about it and came up with a few examples: 1984 by Orwell, Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury, Utopia by Thomas More and even Narnia by Lewis (One day, I’ll buy all the Narnia books in a very pretty edition…Feeling that’s a utopia…). We discussed about one of Plato’s dialogs in “The Republic” which evoked a perfect world ruled by wisdom and reason…And he eventually came up with the idea that feelings and emotions were bad (Go tell that to Austen, she’ll be delighted!). Virgil also had his own Utopian world: It would reach perfection thanks to human progress. To finish with, we briefly talked about the garden of Eden which is described as a perfect world in the Genesis of the Bible. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite last…

Ok, that’s it for this post…Next post? Thomas More and his Utopia! ; )