Essay, Research Paper: Machiavelli's Prince


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The Prince, written in 1513 by Niccolo Machiavelli is regarded as one of the
most crucial yet controversial works in the field of political science. It holds
Machiavelli's observations and reflections on Italian political history. It was
written in response to the decay of the Italian states system. This book was
designed specifically to captivate and transform its readers to analyze and
adopt Machiavelli's perspective as it was initially written and dedicated to
Lorenzo De Medici, the ruler of Florence. Although this book was written in the
15th century, the ideas are very much applicable in today's societies.
Machiavelli's goals and views as perceived by the readers of this book seem to
be in contrast with the humanist beliefs and teachings of his time. As in his
book he promotes a secular society and felt morality should be set aside as it
obstructed power. He reflects that a prince should not consider whether his acts
are moral or immoral while he acts in the favor of the state. To achieve that,
states goals must be the primary focus for a prince. If a prince acts immorally
to achieve the states' goals, then it does not reflect his personal standards or
beliefs, as it is a role that he plays for the state. The effect of fortune on
government and the course of humanity is an important theme in the book. As
Machiavelli believed that fortune played a major part in at least half of men's
actions. The force of fortune was so strong that it was mentally in the back of
every men's mind, but their were steps that could be taken to lower the effect.
Furthermore, Machiavelli holds a very low opinion of most people and thinks they
have been selfish towards the state. He concludes from his observations that men
are "ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers." He points out that they
will accompany you when you are privileged and abandon or turn against you at
the time of danger. A prince therefore must be cautious while interacting with
the people but should have a favorable standing amongst them. "The
Prince" was written and completed by Machiavelli in response to Italy's
persistent political problems and the emergence of a new rule in Florence.
Therefore with these two situations at hand, Machiavelli carefully devised
"The Prince" and primarily focused on the responsibilities, aims and
objectives that a "new prince" should concentrate upon. To explain his
arguments, Machiavelli draws out examples from various historical episodes and
his political experience. He stresses in his book that political leaders should
seek solutions from the past in order to cure current problems. His opinion
revolved around that fact that instead of evolution and progress there was
repetition as a recurring cycle of events shaped history. This can be seen
reflected in most of Machiavelli's arguments in "The Prince," which
weakens his arguments to an extent. He further concludes that men throughout
history have been selfish and cheats. They are not worthy of any lenience and
therefore should be treated with the same measures as in the past. The Prince,
has been criticized both in a positively and negatively. Some have praised
Machiavelli for his realism and irony in a subtle manner. On the other hand he
is acclaimed for having his work seen as supporting a republican form of
government by exposing the faults of princedoms, and praise his ability to
separate political from moral issues. Machiavelli can also be seen as nave,
promoting fraud, force and immorality in politics, using beneficial ends to
justify evil means, and betraying republican ideals. There is also a departure
from classical models to a more humanist approach, when Machiavelli urges rulers
to take on the characteristics of animals by using force when the situation
requires. Although Machiavelli refers to classical accounts of rulers being
trained by centaurs, his suggestion that rulers be less than fully human
critical challenges the humanist tradition which would never have humans behave
as beasts. The Prince, is often referred to as a 'book inspired by the devil.'
This piece of literature is very interesting not only for Political Science
students but also for everyone part of a society. It gives an excellent insight
to understanding the qualities of human kind. In the 500 years since this book
has been written it has been a major source of contention and debate. In
addition this book is highly recommended and enjoyable to read.

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