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MonkeyNotes-Utopia by Sir Thomas More
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Of Slaves, Euthanasia, and Marriage Customs

Slaves are those Utopians who have committed great offenses or have committed heinous crimes in a foreign country or prisoners of war. They impose much hardship on these slaves, especially those who are native born who have transgressed. A third type of slave 2are poor people from other countries who choose to become slaves in Utopia to escape poverty in their own country. If slaves are well-behaved and committed to reform, they could be freed. Also, slavery is not hereditary so the children of slaves are free citizens.

The sick are treated very kindly. No effort is spared to cure them. But in the case of incurable sickness the Utopians allow euthanasia. The patient has to get the permission of priests, his family, the council and his own doctor before he is allowed to end his life. Without these sanctions, the ending of one's life is considered suicide. In Utopia, suicides are flung into a stinking marsh and not buried in hallowed ground.

The social customs of the Utopians are simple. A woman marries at the age of eighteen and the man at twenty-two. Their method of choosing is unique. The prospective bride and groom are paraded naked before each other while suitably chaperoned. Infidelity and wayward behavior are the only causes for divorce. The guilty party in a divorce cannot remarry. A woman cannot be divorced arbitrarily; however, a couple can divorce through mutual consent with the approval of the council. Those who commit adultery are punished with slavery. In all these and other cases there is no hard and fast punishment. The council decides on every case after weighing all the circumstances. The family is hierarchical. The father is the head and he can rebuke his wife and parents correct their children.


The Utopians delight in fools and laugh at their foolishness. This is allowed and expected. But deformity cannot be laughed at. The Utopia are aware of the importance of good examples. Therefore they set up statues of good and noble men and of those who have helped their country in public places. Everybody works towards the common good. All Utopians follow a code of dress and behavior. Even the prince and bishop are simply dressed. A sheaf of corn is carried before the former and a taper of wax before the latter to denote their position.

There are a very few laws in Utopia and these few everybody knows. Their laws are clear and unambiguous. They are meant to help justice and not hinder it. So clear and practical is the legal system that there are no lawyers and other servants of law in Utopia. Every man pleads his own case and judgment is passed quickly by a magistrate. Utopians are so proud of their law and legal system that they have exported them to their neighbors. They send magistrates to serve in neighboring countries.

Utopians do not believe in pacts and leagues. These, they believe, are more often broken than followed. In Europe, Hythloday laments, even the holiest and most solemn pacts are broken or provide loopholes that justify breaking the pact. Utopians do not subscribe to this and feel that common sense should dictate the actions of countries even as it should of people.

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