Central Ideas and Context- Utopia

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To critique a text, readers

examine and explain their position on a central idea.

Read the excerpt from Utopia.

In their great council at Amaurot, to which there are three sent from every town once a year, they examine what towns abound in provisions and what are under any scarcity, that so the one may be furnished from the other; and this is done freely, without any sort of exchange; for, according to their plenty or scarcity, they supply or are supplied from one another, so that indeed the whole island is, as it were, one family.

The central idea of this excerpt is that Utopians make a regular effort to care for those in need.

Which detail best supports this central idea?

Towns with an abundance provide for those with less.

Central idea: Utopians distribute wealth to care for all people.

Which statement provides a critique of the central idea?

Taking from the wealthy to feed the poor discourages hard work.

Which line from Utopia is an example of an analogy?

They supply or are supplied from one another, so that indeed the whole island is, as it were, one family.

Read the excerpt from Utopia.

They find pearls on their coasts, and diamonds and carbuncles on their rocks; they do not look after them, but, if they find them by chance, they polish them, and with them they adorn their children, who are delighted with them . . .

This excerpt is most likely More’s reaction to his society’s


Central idea: Utopians strive to make gold and silver less valuable.

Which statement provides a critique of the central idea?

It is a waste to use gold for everyday purposes, because it is hard to find.

A text’s central ideas are always

supported by key details.

Thomas More’s fictional text about a society governed by reason and order is most likely a response to the conflict between

the king and church leaders

Read the excerpt from Utopia.

I never saw a clearer instance of the opposite impressions that different customs make on people than I observed in the ambassadors of the Anemolians, who came to Amaurot when I was there. As they came to treat of affairs of great consequence, the deputies from several towns met together to wait for their coming. The ambassadors of the nations that lie near Utopia, knowing their customs, and that fine clothes are in no esteem among them, that silk is despised, and gold is a badge of infamy, used to come very modestly clothed; but the Anemolians, lying more remote, and having had little commerce with them, understanding that they were coarsely clothed, and all in the same manner, took it for granted that they had none of those fine things among them of which they made no use; and they, being a vainglorious rather than a wise people, resolved to set themselves out with so much pomp that they should look like gods, and strike the eyes of the poor Utopians with their splendour.

Which is the central idea of this excerpt?

The Utopians are not concerned about dressing fashionably.

Which should be included in a critique? Check all that apply.

-the central idea -supporting details -the reader’s position -supporting evidence

Thomas More wrote Utopia during a period of

increased prosperity and a growing middle class.

A student is asked to write a critique of this excerpt from Utopia.

If these metals were laid up in any tower in the kingdom it would raise a jealousy of the Prince and Senate, and give birth to that foolish mistrust into which the people are apt to fall—a jealousy of their intending to sacrifice the interest of the public to their own private advantage. If they should work it into vessels, or any sort of plate, they fear that the people might grow too fond of it, and so be unwilling to let the plate be run down, if a war made it necessary, to employ it in paying their soldiers. To prevent all these inconveniences they have fallen upon an expedient which, as it agrees with their other policy, so is it very different from ours, and will scarce gain belief among us who value gold so much, and lay it up so carefully. They eat and drink out of vessels of earth or glass, which make an agreeable appearance, though formed of brittle materials; while they make their chamber-pots and close-stools of gold and silver, and that not only in their public halls but in their private houses. Of the same metals they likewise make chains and fetters for their slaves, to some of which, as a badge of infamy, they hang an earring of gold, and make others wear a chain or a coronet of the same metal; and thus they take care by all possible means to render gold and silver of no esteem . . .

Which is a critique of the excerpt?

The effects of slavery are much worse than the effects of materialism.

When writing a critique, a reader first finds the central idea and supporting details, then

states a position on the central idea.

Read the excerpt from Utopia.

The folly of men has enhanced the value of gold and silver because of their scarcity; whereas, on the contrary, it is their opinion that Nature, as an indulgent parent, has freely given us all the best things in great abundance, such as water and earth, but has laid up and hid from us the things that are vain and useless.

Which historical fact will best help readers understand this excerpt?

Explorers during this period went to the New World in search of scarce resources.

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