A body of writings commonly associated with the utopian tradition even though the works seem to be in direct contradiction are variously referred to as anti-utopian or distopian. This group includes some distinguished books, the most famous being Samuel Butler's Erewhon, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and George Orwell's 1984. If it is remembered that the primary motivation for all utopian writing is a desire to attack the ills of existing society and to point directions for the amelioration of human society, we will recognize that these anti-utopian documents are not entirely remote from the traditional utopias. Indeed, the anti-utopian works purport to offer utopian solutions to social, economic, and political problems at the outset, but sooner or later — usually sooner — the reader discovers that the author's real purpose is satirical.
One highly influential interpretation of Utopia is that of intellectual historian Quentin Skinner.[9] He has argued that More was taking part in the Renaissance humanist debate over true nobility, and that he was writing to prove the perfect commonwealth could not occur with private property. Crucially, Skinner sees Raphael Hythlodaeus as embodying the Platonic view that philosophers should not get involved in politics, while the character of More embodies the more pragmatic Ciceronian view. Thus the society Raphael proposes is the ideal More would want. But without communism, which he saw no possibility of occurring, it was wiser to take a more pragmatic view.

The name Raphael, though, may have been chosen by More to remind his readers of the archangel Raphael who is mentioned in the Book of Tobit (3:17; 5:4, 16; 6:11, 14, 16, 18; also in chs. 7, 8, 9, 11, 12). In that book the angel guides Tobias and later cures his father of his blindness. While Hythlodaeus may suggest his words are not to be trusted, Raphael meaning (in Hebrew) "God has healed" suggests that Raphael may be opening the eyes of the reader to what is true. The suggestion that More may have agreed with the views of Raphael is given weight by the way he dressed; with "his cloak... hanging carelessly about him"; a style which Roger Ascham reports that More himself was wont to adopt. Furthermore, more recent criticism has questioned the reliability of both Gile's annotations and the character of "More" in the text itself. Claims that the book only subverts Utopia and Hythlodaeus are possibly oversimplistic.