Source Interpretation

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Throughout this semester we have been challenged to interpret and discuss utopia – often in the purest and most original forms, as seen with More and Rousseau. But the actual implementation of utopia is much more complicated and muddy. Through my research paper, I have used the “pure” utopian ideals as the perfect comparison to the Icarians. What did the writings of Cabet and More do to influence the community? How did the ideals shape the development of the community.  After studying the pure utopias, I was able to understand the desire behind the development of each utopian community.

Driven to look for themes of utopia or the failure to achieve utopia, I began to read between the lines of the primary sources. Reading between the lines significantly impacted my interpretations of the sources I used.  Since none of the individuals explicitly used the word “utopia,” the implications of utopia were scattered throughout their accounts of the community. Marie Marchand Ross’ account of being a child in Icaria had naive understandings of the utopian community but her observations play directly into my interpretation of how the Icarian community was inherently hypocritical as they strove to increase equality yet limited access to it.

If nothing else, the study of past and present utopias in class pushed me to be analytical and critical in my examination of my sources and to examine them closely to identify themes and ideas that became integral to my argument.