Recognized historian of the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, Zonnie Gorman is an expert in her field and a dedicated teacher. She has served as a consultant to numerous documentaries, museum exhibitions and authors. Gorman is currently the Project Coordinator for the Circle of Light Navajo Educational Project (CLNEP), a nonprofit organization founded in May 2001 and located in Gallup, New Mexico. CLNEP offers a variety of Navajo role models to youth and fosters cultural pride and self-worth, while educating them along with non-Navajos about the rich history, culture, language and contributions of the Navajo people.
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.
The idea behind the references to the "Golden Age" in the literature of the ancients represents a nostalgic yearning for a kind of life which they imagined was free from the stresses of their more competitive, more commercial civilization. Similarly, the poetic creations of imaginary gardens, the earthly paradises described by Medieval writers, often reflect yearnings growing out of dissatisfaction with things as they are. Another familiar manifestation that took literary form was the pastoral, an idealized representation of simple, happy shepherds. Examples can be found ranging from the eclogues of Theocritus and Virgil to Tasso and Spencer in the Renaissance. In several of Shakespeare's comedies the escape from the city and the court into "the green world" is described in appealing terms. The Duke Senior in As You Like It contrasts his life of exile in the Forest of Arden with the ways of the court in these terms:
There is another passage in Rabelais's Gargantua that is cited among the celebrated Renaissance descriptions of an idealized society; namely, the section called the "Abbeye of Thélème." The society portrayed is confined to a monastery that is regulated in an original and thoroughly unconventional manner. All of the members are happy because, being exempt from any kind of restrictions or regimentation, they are at liberty to pursue their inclinations and encouraged to develop their special talents to their full potential. Among the unconventional monastic features are: the absence of bells to regulate a schedule of activities, the wearing of attractive clothes of varied colors and styles, and — most unconventional — the integration of male and female initiates. Finally, the members of the community are free to leave it at will and also to marry. The whole idea, which at first strikes the reader as one of Rabelais's absurd jests, is discovered to express a fundamental feature of Rabelais's serious philosophy. What he is saying is that people are, by nature, good and, if given free scope and encouraged to live full lives, will develop into healthy and bright creatures, full of grace.
The story of the transformation from the nineteenth-century capitalist-industrial society is explained to the narrator by an old man who has made a study of the revolution that brought about the change. Before the outbreak of armed revolt, conditions for the common workers grew gradually more intolerable, and unions banded together in an organization similar to the AFL-CIO. The establishment ordered the machine-gunning of unarmed protesters, and the people finally learned how to fight back. Certain features of this history are reminiscent of the French Revolution, but others actually foreshadow developments and actions which occurred in the twentieth century, like the firing into the crowd of protesters in Petrograd by the Czarist guards.
The work begins with written correspondence between Thomas More and several people he had met on the continent: Peter Gilles, town clerk of Antwerp, and Hieronymus van Busleyden, counselor to Charles V. More chose these letters, which are communications between actual people, to further the plausibility of his fictional land. In the same spirit, these letters also include a specimen of the Utopian alphabet and its poetry. The letters also explain the lack of widespread travel to Utopia; during the first mention of the land, someone had coughed during announcement of the exact longitude and latitude. The first book tells of the traveller Raphael Hythlodaeus, to whom More is introduced in Antwerp, and it also explores the subject of how best to counsel a prince, a popular topic at the time.
Yet, the puzzle is that some of the practices and institutions of the Utopians, such as the ease of divorce, euthanasia and both married priests and female priests, seem to be polar opposites of More's beliefs and the teachings of the Catholic Church of which he was a devout member. Another often cited apparent contradiction is that of the religious tolerance of Utopia contrasted with his persecution of Protestants as Lord Chancellor. Similarly, the criticism of lawyers comes from a writer who, as Lord Chancellor, was arguably the most influential lawyer in England. It can be answered, however, that as a pagan society Utopians had the best ethics that could be reached through reason alone, or that More changed from his early life to his later when he was Lord Chancellor.