This paper will be comparing the marital differences in More’s Utopian society to Bacon’s New Atlantis, while also outlining the different methods used to select a soul mate. In Mores Utopian society he presents his ideal society and the way marital practices should be carried out, which is very different from his European background the same goes for Bacon’s New Atlantis. While reading Utopia the first thing noticed that was different from New Atlantis was that there was a set age for marriage, in Utopia “Women are not allowed to marry till eighteen; men not till they are four years older” (More, 52) this means that men must be 22 years old in order to marry a women. Atlantis does not actually speak of any specific age man or women are to be married. Based on that it is assumed that in Atlantis at the age you are fertile is when it’s permitted to be married of to a bachelor men were not interested in getting married at young age because they would “choose rather a libertine and impure single life than to be yoked into marriage; and many that do marry, marry late when the prime and strength of their years is past” (Bacon, 14), this quote explains that in Atlantis men were more interested in exploring the good side of a life without commitment a kind of party lifestyle. But marrying and having children at old age sometimes comes with a price of birth defects maybe that’s why they have a tradition of letting the man and women view each other naked before marriage. The thought of marriage in Atlantis was considered as a “dull thing, and a kind of imposition or tax” (Bacon, 14) this makes it seems like the men were not interested in the burden of raising kids, also men in Atlantis did not understand the accomplishment of passing there genes on to the next generation. For this reason they would choose to marry when they are older, when couples did get married in Atlantis it was because they would gain some sort of respect or status in their society. The way marriage is viewed in Atlantis is similar to getting married into luxury in order to benefit from the actual marriage its self. In Utopia a couple got married because they wanted to spend their life together, there is a big contrast in this area compared to Atlantis because marriage is annoying to the Atlantis society.
Utopia seems to be stricter with marital practices, because there are punishments for being a unfaithful bachelor unlike Atlantis. In Utopia “man or woman convicted of illicit intercourse before marriage, is severely punished” (More, 52) people are held accountable for their impure actions and are punished. If convicted of fornication before marriage; “they are forbidden to marry altogether, unless pardoned by the governor” (More, 52) this is not the end of the punishment for committing fornication. The punishment is then transferred to the family of the two people who committed the action, “the father and mother of any family in whose house such an offence was committed incur great disgrace as having been neglectful of their duties” (More, 52). This inquires that the family who raised the adults did a poor job in raising and developing the morals and foundation in their son or daughters life, because of their actions the house and the family will suffer and be disrespected.
What is found must arousing about both societies that is similar but different at the sometime is spouse selection methods, the Utopians and Atlantis societies both require that the wife and husband see each other naked before committing to marriage in order to secure a long happy marriage. But the Atlantis method has added selection methods that are unpractical compared to the Utopian society, the people of Atlantis not only look for defects like the Utopians but they give the option to let another man view the wife:
Atlantis Permits, before they contract, to see one another naked. This they dislike; for they have near every town a couple of pools (which they call Adam and Eve’s pools), where it is permitted to one of the friends of the man, and another of the friends of the woman, to see them severally bathe naked. . . . (Bacon, 14)
This practice would not be accepted in Utopian society because the Utopians would not agree on letting another person besides the two mates view the wife naked first. Utopians believed it would help make the decision to get married easier; Utopians didn’t want to hide anything from each other before committing to live with each other forever. The Utopians believe in staying with your partner tell the end and the only way that divorce is permitted in utopian society is when “they separate by mutual consent and contract fresh unions. This may not be done without the permission of the Council, which allows no divorce until the council and the couple in question have carefully gone into the case” (More, 53) this suggest that Utopians do not bind people together for life, because in most marriages the spark does go dim in the relationship and one must find another person to bring back the fire in their heart. The Utopians will only part based on the terms of the last quote, but breaking the bonds of marriage is not something the Utopians believe in doing. I cannot say the same for Atlantis society; their marriage customs do not follow many guidelines like the, the only rule that is similar between the two societies is that they allow no polygamy which is a marriage with more than two partners. But in Utopia “matrimony are seldom broken except by death, though rarely a marriage may also end as a result of adultery or intolerable offensiveness of disposition” ( More, 53) like that of a husband that abuses his wife and family, the two are entitled to divorce and the victim is allowed to marry off to happiness. But the person convicted of such monstrous crimes are “put to work rather than put them to death” (More, 53). On top of that if the women still loves the man even though he has abused her, she is able to work for his freedom. But if he does hurt her again the man will be sentenced to death!
In conclusion Utopia would be the better place to be if looking for a more committed marriage and life style, and New Atlantis would be the best choice if looking for a long single lifestyle with many sexual encounters before settling down. Utopian society is a more structured society compared to Atlantis because there is an age of consent set in order to commit to marriage in Utopia, Atlantis does not actually speak of any specific age man or women are to be married. Based on that it is assumed that in Atlantis at the age you are fertile is when it’s permitted to be married of to a bachelor. Atlantis marriage traditions would be seen as less structured and more for the purpose of self-pleasure, without having to worry about anyone but themselves; this is what was found most different between the two Utopian societies.