Explain the following quote:"The founders of a colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally protect, have invariably reconized it among their earliest pratical...

Explain the following quote:

"The founders of a colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally protect, have invariably reconized it among their earliest pratical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin sail as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison."

Asked on by lukas2011

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amymc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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As this quotation occurs on the opening page of the novel, it sets the tone for the work.  First of all, the satire is evident.  Puritan era Massachusettes is hardly a Utopia.  What the Puritan community seeks is a society filled with virtue and morality in keeping with its strict Orthodox beliefs.  What it has created is a society of hyperjudgmentalists and and a trail of nasty secrets.

Thus, the second part of the quotation provides a more realist view:  the need for a prison and a cemetary.  Ironically, if one is attempting to create a Utopia, it's odd that the first considerations are given to criminals and the dead.

The rest of the novel exposes the secrets and hypocrisy of the community which, again ironically, begins in a prison and ends in a cemetary.

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