Utopia essay

Voltaire / Thomas Moore / Thomas Campanella / utopia

Essay Topic:

The similarities and differences of the utopia depicted in “Candide” by Francois M., “Utopia” by Sir Thomas Moore and “City of the Sun: A Poetical Dialogue” by Thomas Campanella.

Essay Questions:

Why is Voltaire’s “Candide” nowadays considered to be one of the most famous variant’s of utopia?

How does “Utopia” by Sir Thomas Moore reveal the true essence of the utopist world?

In what way does “City of the Sun: A Poetical Dialogue” by Thomas Campanella interprets the Utopia?

Thesis Statement:

The book is at many points controversial, but still its main anti-utopian line is easily seen throughout the pages.


Utopia essay


1. Review of “Candide” by Francois M.

2. Review of “Utopia” by Sir Thomas Moore

3. Review of “City of the Sun: A Poetical Dialogue” by Thomas Campanella

Introduction: Voltaire’s “Candide” nowadays is considered to be one of the most famous variants of a Utopia provided by authors that dedicated their works to the creation of a “perfect” society. As every book “Candide” has its plot- line, which goes through the whole book and with the help of which the author manages to show the controversy of the real world with an “ideal” one. The book by itself impresses the reader with the variety of contents and the way certain aspects are criticized by the author. The fact that “Candide” is a book who was given birth during the Renaissance, a period that worshiped beauty, makes it even more attractive for the reader to see all the ideas of this period denied. It is made with a very a fine satire and most of the time we do not see the events from the points of view of the characters but through the author’s vision. It seems like the characters are static and we definitely feel the author deriding them in certain situations. It is possible to expect the personages to be a “background” for the message Voltaire tried to carry to our minds. Throughout Voltaire’s “Candide” it is felt that the author wanted at least to say that without any misfortunes we would have never had the opportunity to feel real happiness and joy. Misfortunes are shown as a “path” to the better future. The book is at many points controversial, but still its main anti-utopian line is easily seen throughout the pages. Before starting analyzing and comparing the book let us take a brief overview of the book itself. The name of the main character of the book is Candide. “..His face was the true index of his mind. He had a solid judgment joined to the most unaffected simplicity”[Voltaire 1]. Candide is a young man who faces a lot of troubles and various difficulties to achieve his main goal- to be with the woman he loves so desperately- Cunegonde. He survives his first trouble in the army of the Bulgars and then keeps going through various obstacles with different companions on his side. But let us get closer to the topic of our paper and approach Voltaire’s utopia showed in the book. To start with it is necessary to choose a moment that would describe it in details. The point we want to stop on and start our discussion is the moment when Candide and his valet Cacambo arrive in the Country of El Dorado. El Dorado is the utopia of this book and it may be called its heart.

Through the existance of this “perfect” society the author develops his point of view about our real world. In spite of the cruelty of our world and its ignorance it is still better than living in the ideal-world model of El Dorado. El Dorado was a place with ordinary houses built in “the manner of a European palace” , children showing “contempt for gold and precious stones”, a place where everybody is being extremely polite and “there is no necessity of having any money at all”[chapter 18]. The government of the country maintained the trade in El Dorado and there was truly no need for money, because it did not serve its purpose anymore. Everything was right in this El Dorado and the life’s flow astonished with its tranquility and quiet happiness. It becomes understandable how they coped with preventing something external influencing their world, when the old man tells Cacambo: “…none of the inhabitants of our little kingdom should ever quit it; and to this wise ordinance we owe the preservation of our innocence and happiness…”[chapter 18]. Rocks surround the strange country in the book and this makes it inaccessible for European conquerors and their changes. The religion of the country is not the religion is our usual understanding it is a belief in God, where people do not need to pray anymore, for they had everything they wanted. Voltaire criticizes religion very clearly in this episode. The people in El Dorado are all of one opinion and are all equal with no courts to judge them or laws to control. A land without tyranny - that is how Voltaire depicts his utopian El Dorado and with the full picture of its perfection he shows it objectively without giving the reader the subjective additions that would make the perception of the country more emotional. In spite of the attractiveness of the utopia the author points out that a person having all these things and living this perfect life may still not be happy. It is apparent that Voltaire sees nobility and wealth as obstacles of being truly happy in life.

For instance the moment when Candide leaves El Dorado with lots of jewels the reader is shown how unhappy he is at the same moment, because his beloved one is still far away: “..Candide was wholly occupied with the thoughts of presenting his sheep to Miss Cunegonde…”[Voltaire chapter 18]. Another situation shown before is when Cunegonde marries a different man because of the money he possesses. The easiness she become the wife of Don Fernando, the governor of Buenos Aires undermines our belief that she perhaps loves Candide. So, El Dorado, in spite of being a wonderful and theoretically accepted ideal for living is not what a man may need. In this utopia everybody is equal and what we call “being unique or being an individual” is wiped off. The expression of being different is deleted from the minds of utopian people. And though they are all apparently good people they do not cause the reader to feel any emotional openness towards them. We feel no sympathy, no regret from leaving these people, but it is even possible to say we expect the return. At the end Candide achieves his goal he gets Cunegonde and with their friends they find happiness in the simplicity of work. For the comparison we decided to take two famous works: Thomas Moore’s “Utopia” and Thomas Campanella’s “The city of the sun”. Both of them provide two other descriptions of utopias and are of a great interest to the reader from the philosophical point of view. Starting with Thomas Moore’s “Utopia” we face a similar description of a utopia that we have in “Candide”. The book is all about a place were there is work for everyone and all the things that you can find there are not individual but are owned by the community. It is also the description of a perfect society that has no criminals and therefore no courts to judge them and no jails to imprison them. We observe Thomas Moore follow Voltaire’s position concerning the labour. As “Candide” heroes found happiness in ordinary labor out of the utopian world , “Utopia” shows that people can live only through working hard and equally to each other. “Utopia” presents one more model of society’s functioning in order to create a perfect encirclement to live in, referring to all spheres of life. Moore describes his utopian country free of war, jealousy and hatred. The work fulfilled by the people is not a work they do for themselves but for the well being of the whole society. Every single member makes an contribution in its development. Same as in “Candide” there is no inequality among people, because they are all the same and do the same things. It is not possible to say that being different from these people is a deviation, because for them is no right or wrong. The only thing that exists is their way of doing it and nothing else. So Voltaire’s idea about the deletion of individuality is completely supported in Thomas Moore’s “Utopia”. The dialogues in “Utopia” are directed towards making clear of essence of arranging this perfect community.

The last work we are to analyze is the book of Thomas Campanella’s “The city of the sun” . He, as both of the previously mentioned authors do shows a utopian idea in his book. It is a model of the perfect existance of people in a society. It is a story of Genoese Sea-Captain who tells the Grandmaster of the Knights about the land he saw once and how much this land impressed him back than. W hen you start reading this book the more you read it the more you realize it is definitely the influence of Thomas Moore’s “Utopia”. Something elusively familiar is felt in the beginning and is supported by the contents in general. The main difference from both” Candide” and “Utopia” lies in a more detailed description of the image of his utopia. Concerning the religion aspect it is necessary to outline that “The city of sun” had temples where people worshiped their God, while in “Candide” people carry God in them and do not pray for praying means asking and they do not need anything. Could be, Campanella’s utopia is too idealistic due to the complete explication of the utopian life, but at the same time if can be called “primary utopia” on the base of which other utopia’s were constructed. Science seems to be the leading force of the formation and development of a perfect society. Thomas Campanella’s “The city of sun” is a model that is expected to have the head of the government. There also are supervisors that help the head Hoh in controlling the city. So here the factor of equality is not actual, because of the importance of the supervision. Everything is done with a perfect calculation:” Wisdom is the ruler of the liberal arts, of mechanics, of all sciences with their magistrates and doctors, and of the discipline of the schools”[Campanella 2]. Everything in the society offered by Campanella is common; the concept of a family is deformed. Campanella’s society in comparison to Moore’s and Voltaire’s society has lost all the last traits of individuality. The whole being of this society becomes more of a threat for the psychological health of people like that. But this is just from our point of view, on the other hand these people feel happy for they do not really compare their life to anything. They just take it for granted and do no try to change anything. The existance of a “community of women with a scientific control of breeding “is said to be the result of the influence of Plato [Cliffnotes] and performs a Christian family that Moore did not really have. Voltaire’s “ Candide” unlike Campanella’s “The city of the sun” does not make such a strong stress on scientifically control over the nation, its reproduction and many other factors. Science is seen as the deckhouse of the formation of a perfect society. Voltaire’s “Candide” also stands out for showing sarcasm and negativism with which the world treats people. So analyzing all the ideology used in all of these books we might in the first place point out a strong desire to rebel against the existing world and offer another model of productive existance. A model where everybody would be happy and there would be no social inequality, where one man would not have to work more than another man and get paid less. A model of living where people would not need any money and all their work would be directed to cover their own needs. For instance in Campanella’s “The city of sun” the working day lasted for only 4 hours due to the sharing of labor. The religious aspect lay in the first place in the creation of one common faith. Though the author’s visions of this aspect were a little different they are all united by this all-embracing idea. We picked these two other works so similar to the first one no occasionally. They all prove that people strive for a perfect existance.

Conclusion: A try to create a utopia in our contemporary world will never lead to success, because we all live in the time of competition and it has already become an integral part of our personalities. Only at the moment of a full refusal from competing, and only when it stops being our need we can just try thinking about living in a utopia. Nevertheless the depictions of utopias in Voltaire, Moore and Campanella have much in common and persecute the same idea – a society where everybody is equal and treated the same way and everybody enjoys their own lives, so similar to the others. Utopia is like a fairy-tale that will never come true until some “magic” occurs. The popularity of the utopian trend is easily explicable through the tendency of the time the novels were written. Being controversial in their essence they attract readers a lot. Utopias nowadays are forgotten, but their idea still remains a dream for some writers. In conclusion we should say that Utopias were in the first place opposition to the situation in the period they were written and if we analyze these three books we will see how much in common they have.


1. “Candide” by Francois M. /Voltaire Penguin Books/1990.

2. “Utopia” by Sir Thomas Moore /Phoenix /1988

3. City of the Sun: A Poetical Dialogue” by Thomas Campanella/Pluto Press/1981

“…As they were preparing to make him set out the third time our young hero, unable to support it any longer, begged as a favor that they would be so obliging as to shoot him through the head; the favor being granted, a bandage was tied over his eyes, and he was made to kneel down.”[Voltaire 12]

The book was written in the 1759, at that time this house style was the most popular one.

Written in 1623 in the Age of reason.


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