About Words and Deeds

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Machiavelli’s The Prince is a story about results rather than the intent or the process of getting to the end. From the other stories, we have read thus far, “Virtue” is a major part of the overall meaning. It was mentioned that through the translation of the story that “Virtue” has been to many other words in the English language. This story discusses is the role of virtue in a ruler or the prince’s ideas not in a sense that we have seen before in other philosophers.The interpretation of “virtue” or virtu in The Prince is on the basics of the Prince maintaining his reign, how to act, why he acts, and the result at the end. They see his virtue as everything that pertains to him staying in control over his reign and controlling those who follow them. If he can change and plan his virtue to fit the circumstances he will be a successful and powerful prince.

Virtu in this context of the story doesn’t necessarily contain goodness, or good behavior, but includes everything from life, that goes against fortune. “he need not make himself uneasy at incurring a reproach for those vices without which the state can only be saved with difficulty, for if everything is considered carefully, it will be found that something which looks like virtue, if followed, would be his ruin; whilst something else, which looks like vice, yet followed brings him security and prosperity”. This quote shows that the prince must do bad evil things to contain his reign and power because if he tries to be good, and never evil, he will not remain prince for long. This goes against the Christian and Greek view of the world because he is saying virtue is not the golden mean, or the vitreous behavior, but everything that goes against fortune. He believes that is it ok to do things wrong, as long as the ends justify the means. Virtu is necessary for a prince to have because it also is the talent or ability that can be put forward to accomplish certain objectives or ambition.

In The Prince, there is also a strong connection between virtu and fortune, or Fortuna, in chapter 25, is where it is most prevalent, although throughout the whole story. Fortuna and fortune are not seen as wealth, money, or other things in large amounts, but in the context of this story as luck or chance. That means that fortune is everything that the Prince can’t control, whether that be a natural force, or by the will of God. “So, it happens with fortune, who shows her power where valour has not prepared to resist her, and thither she turns her forces where she knows that barriers and defences have not been raised to constrain her”. This shows that no one can control fortune or fate and that she will rage on like “raving rivers”, and take what she will and what she chooses. As the people, we must see fortune and hope for the best, but we cannot plan for it, and we cannot stop it.

The Prince brings an interesting perspective to virtue, and fortune that has yet to be seen. He explains the real world, and not ideal or made up worlds, and because of that nothing is good, and evil must also be used by the powerful. In order for them to stay powerful, and keep their regime going.

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Niccolo Machiavelli’s Book The Prince: Key Methods of Maintaining Power

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

In Chapter Twenty of Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, several important tactics for maintaining power are discussed. Some of the methods that Machiavelli discusses for maintaining power include the armament or disarmament of citizens, the elimination of divisons within the principality, the achievement of greatness through opportunities, and the concept of fortresses. According to Machiavelli, there are virtuous and non-virtuous approaches to each of these four topics that aid a prince in the maintaining of power.

Machiavelli lays out several different scenarios for treating newly acquired subjects. This includes the armament of subjects. According to Machiavelli, a prince can choose not to arm his subjects, but this will cause the citizens to feel as though the prince does not trust them and, as Machiavelli puts it, “generate hatred against you.” A prince can also choose to arm his citizens. In doing this, the citizens become his arms. Machiavelli says that this option is the virtuous one. Not only does it provide you with arms and prevent you from having to use mercenaries, which are not at all virtuous, but it also provides you with subjects rallying behind you in your endeavors.

Another important topic that Machiavelli discusses is his belief that divisions are harmful to a prince. Machiavelli says that he, unlike those scholars who came before him, believes that divisions within a principality do more harm to it than good. When an enemy is preparing to strike against a prince, the enemy aligns with the foreign and domestic enemies of a prince. These foreign enemies can be states that a prince has wronged or offended at some point. A prince’s domestic enemies are the subjects who reside in towns that are not treated equally by him. Divisions may be helpful in times of peace in order to prevent subjects from rising up against a prince, but they are not at all helpful in times of war when they serve no purpose other than to weaken the prince.

“Without doubt, princes become great when they overcome difficulties made for them and opposition made to them.” In saying this, Machiavelli means that a prince is able to rise up and become even more powerful and successful through the defeat of his enemies and by overcoming obstacles put in his path. Machiavelli also discusses this idea of rising to greatness through opportunity in Chapter Six in regards to Moses, Theseus, Romulus, and Cyrus. He again discusses another series of men who rose to greatness by seizing opportunities presented to them by fortune in Chapter Thirteen, this time naming David, Hero of Syracuse, and Cesare Borgia. All of these men, Machiavelli believes, have rose to greatness by making the most of unfortunate circumstances that have been presented to them. Therefore, according to Machiavelli, a prince’s enemies are not really there to destroy him and to claim his principality as their own, but they are actually an opportunity for the prince to “climb higher on the ladder that his enemies have brought to him” and enable him to aspire to an even more elevated level of greatness.

Yet another method presented by Niccolo Machiavelli for maintaining a principality is the idea of fortresses. In this regard, Machiavelli is referring to not only brick walls surrounded by moats with crocodiles and ramparts and drawbridges, but also to armed citizens. Physical fortresses, Machiavelli explains, do nothing to maintain power in times of peace. Instead, the only act to guard you from your own people. Fortresses are only necessary if a prince’s enemies are his own people. Instead, it is better for a prince’s own people to be his fortress. As previously mentioned, it is better for a prince to arm his people. Again, Machiavelli here argues that the arming of a prince’s own people will benefit the prince and act as a defense to foreign enemies and better protect the principality than any crocodile-invested, moat-surrounded fortress ever could. Machiavelli again sheds more light onto the story of Francesco Sforza- who is arguably the main character of the narrative Machiavelli relays throughout the course of his book- saying that the Sforza castle in Milan caused nothing but trouble to the Sforza family. Fortresses, Machiavelli says, serve no purpose other than to foster feelings of hatred among the people. Hatred, Machiavelli says, is a feeling that you do not want the citizens to feel toward a prince. “The best fortress there is, is not being hated by the people,” Machiavelli tells the reader, because if the people hate their prince, they will be more likely to take up arms against him rather than for him.

Machiavelli’s The Prince is riddled with different modes and advice for the acquisition and maintaining of principalities. Chapter Twenty of the book details different approaches for the question of whether or not to arm citizens, how to eliminate divisions within the principality, rising to greatness through opportunity, and different types of fortresses and the problems that can stem from them. Some of the methods that Machiavelli describes throughout the chapter are virtuous approaches while others are not.

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Niccolo Machiavelli’s Book The Prince: Why Good Arms Are Necessary in Creating Good Laws

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Good Arms”

Throughout his life, Niccolὸ Machiavelli writes a collection of works and within those works he creates a well-known book known as The Prince. This novel sheds light on modern philosophy and gives an in-depth analysis on how to acquire and maintain political power. Most importantly, this book was an effort to provide a guide for political action based on what’s happened in history and Machiavelli’s own experiences. One theme Machiavelli introduced in The Prince is the role of laws & armies. He touches on how a Prince must lay a strong foundation for both to create a strong state. There cannot be good laws without good arms, therefore focusing on arms is paramount for a ruler. Arms come in the representation of a prince’s troops and if a prince desires to rule on the battlefield, he must acquire his own troops. Mercenaries and auxiliaries are not trustworthy and damage will occur from the inside-out if a ruler gives these certain types of soldiers a chance within their army. Looking closely at The Prince, it is clear the influence a ruler can have if they possess good arms. This depiction of “good arms” is based on the idea that a prince should fortify his cities and attack his enemies with his own troops. Dealing with the unreliable natures of mercenaries and auxiliaries would be counter-productive to laying a strong foundation for an army. So if a ruler wants to uphold political power, they must listen to these statements presented in The Prince.

In The Prince, Machiavelli has concern for rulers using mercenary and auxiliary forces because they never give a ruler certainty in what role they will play in their army. Mercenaries are simply sell-swords or better known as soldiers for hire. They are motivated by monetary gains while offering their services to the highest bidder. Their loyalty is based off money and they can easily focus on their own prestige instead of fighting for the cause they were paid for. Machiavelli describes the nature of basing their state off of mercenaries by saying, “Mercenaries are auxiliary forces that are useless and dangerous, and anyone whose state is based on mercenary arms will never be established or safe, for mercenaries are disunited, ambitious, lacking in discipline and untrustworthy” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 77). This means that rulers who can’t secure their own troops will certainly be more at risk to watch their lands crumble when left in the hands of mercenaries. Mercenaries are troublesome, and simply cannot be trusted in dire times. Most will stick by their buyer’s side until war ensues and if war does actually happen, they will cower away from the fight. Machiavelli reinforces this point of mercenaries being cowards by saying, “They are well disposed to be your soldiers so long as you do not declare war, but with the coming of battle they either take flight or desert” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 78). This statement is true and important because of the nature of fighting in wars during this time period. A payment is not enough for a mercenary to risk their life for their employer. Also, the Prince may never know what kind of soldier he is getting when he hires a mercenary. A mercenary can be very skilled on the battlefield or very incompetent but both will affect a ruler’s army. The skilled mercenary can easily become selfish and increase their power at the prince’s expense, while the unskilled one would simply not be reliable in battle. Altogether, with the introduction of mercenary forces, rulers must know that if they join forces with a talented mercenary, they will never be safe due to the fact that mercenaries cannot be trusted or relied on.

Within chapter XIII of the novel, Machiavelli quickly criticizes the use of auxiliary forces just as he did with mercenary forces. They are simply borrowed troops from a more powerful state which creates a greater threat to the Prince and his rule. A ruler would be in a lose-lose situation if he possessed auxiliary forces. This predicament is explained by Machiavelli when he states, “However, they are almost always harmful to those who have recourse to them, as if they lose, you are undone; if they win, you become their prisoner” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 82). This gives an image that if the auxiliaries are unsuccessful, the ruler is left defenseless. If the auxiliaries are successful which is a likely outcome, then the prince owes his victory to someone else’s power. This makes a ruler indebted to a more powerful ruler, which eventually would lead to internal ruin. A prince could never be comfortable if his success was at the hands of auxiliary forces. Machiavelli makes this point clear by saying, “I conclude, therefore, that no principality is secure without its own army. Indeed, it is wholly dependent upon fortune, having no strength that can be relied upon to defend it in times of adversity” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 85). He is saying that, there will be no trust in an army if it’s dependent on foreign troops. Along with the loss of trust, the prince’s reputation would falter due to the use of outside armies. Enemies would know that certain prince is weak and his success is not based off his own strength. This would expose a weakness and would make nearby enemies want to continue to attack the prince because they know he is not as strong as his reputation may be. This would altogether lead to the demise of a prince because his principality would be based merely off of fortune and uncertainty.

A wise prince creates strong laws and accompanies those strong laws with a strong military presence. Prince’s must be self-sufficient in their ways and not show any forms of weakness because weakness will lead to their downfall. It is better for a prince to lose with his own troops and rely on his virtὺ as a ruler because fortuna can bring about unexpected results. Throughout The Prince, Machiavelli brings up examples of rulers that prospered and rulers that failed. He mentions Charles VII as a ruler who prospered and states that, “Charles VII, father of King Louis XI, recognized the necessity of arming himself with his own forces when he freed France from the English through a combination of good fortune and personal ability [virtὺ]” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 84). This shows that Machiavelli is right when he mentions that rulers have to realize how much better off they are with their own reliable forces. If the people know that their ruler is someone who prides themselves on maintaining and developing their kingdom, they can have full confidence in him. The Kingdom of France was no longer in need of the English forces. Once they were freed, it could be inferred that a weight was lifted off the Kingdom’s shoulders. Along with that, reputation is very important in sustaining someone’s seat on the throne, therefore, if someone’s reputation is tarnished they must find ways to repair their reputation or they risk giving off the perception that they are weak. Cesare Borgia had to learn through experience that the only way to grow in strength on the battlefield is to be in command of his own forces because everything else is threatening and unsafe. Machiavelli speaks on his adapting ways by saying, “Each time he grew in strength, and at no stage was he more highly rated than when everybody saw that he was in complete command of his own forces” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 84). This speaks on Borgia’s transition from using French auxiliary arms, to various mercenaries that proved dangerous and then his own troops which increased his reputation. This is important because had Borgia not deemed these forces unreliable and untrustworthy, he would have led his Kingdom into certain peril and his legacy would thus be tarnished. Based off Machiavelli’s examples, the immense impact that rulers can have by commanding their own troops lifts the morale of their people and lets their troops know that they have trust in an ideal military with no outsiders.

One of Machiavelli’s most familiar works, The Prince, can be seen as a guide to ruling a Kingdom. In chapters 12 and 13, Machiavelli speaks on the different types of soldiers within an army. Those three groups being mercenaries or soldiers for hire, auxiliaries or borrowed soldiers and lastly, a Prince’s own soldiers. The only group that Machiavelli recommends is a Prince’s own soldiers, as expected. In dealing with people that aren’t their own, princes interact with people that have ulterior motives. Mercenaries are undisciplined and cowardly in the face of the enemy. Their only motivations are money and due to that fact, they have no loyalty’s and can turn on any prince. Auxiliaries normally come from allied forces but they are even more dangerous than mercenaries. They possess good fighting skills and can be beneficial in a war effort, but once the war is over, win or lose, the auxiliaries have no ties to that prince. They all are united and under the control of formidable leaders so once again, they show no loyalty. Altogether this shows how important a prince’s own troops will be to his principality. They are loyal win or lose, and built upon strong foundations which creates a picture of what Machiavelli means by good arms. If a ruler wants to rule for a long time in a stable Kingdom, they must be able to limit their liabilities by surrounding themselves with strong authority amongst their armies.

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Niccolo Machiavelli’s Book, The Prince: the Modern Politics

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Modern Political Ideas in Machiavelli’s The Prince

Machiavelli’s The Prince presents many political ideas that are still relevant in modern politics. He argues on topics such as whether it’s better to be loved or feared, whether to be generous or stingy, and how virture can be manipulated. Machiavelli references well known figures of literature and history to drive several of his points such as Caesar, Achilles, and Alexander VI. Although these essays from The Prince were meant to serve as advice for princes back in Machiavelli’s day, he presents political ideas that are aligned with modern conservatives, and these ideas are still very much seen today.

One of Machiavelli’s arguments is that it is better to be stingy than to be generous. Although he agrees that liberalty can earn earn you a good reputation, “the generosity that earns you that reputation can do you great harm” (1610). He argues that a prince with the reputation of liberality will “immediately be labelled a miser” if he decides to stop his generous ways (1610). He also believes that it is not in the public interest for a prince to be generous, because this will result in higher taxes in order to fund the prince’s donations, while a more stingy prince is able to keep taxes down because he isn’t spending as much. As such, Machiavelli believes that stinginess, not generosity, will ultimately give you a reputation of generosity. The two sides of this argument—liberality and stinginess—can be easily aligned with modern liberal and conservative beliefs, respectively. Machiavelli’s idea of donating money and being generous very much resembles a liberal tax plan—higher taxes that fund welfare programs, which provide for the poor. Machiavelli, however, aligns himself with a more conservative tax plan, believing that higher taxes will “rob his subjects,” and lower taxes are for the greater good (1611). Machiavelli does seem to have strong support for conservative economics, and this is an idea still applies today.

Another topic that Machiavelli covers is whether it’s better to be feared or loved. He explains that it is better to be feared, because men will serve a prince that they love “so long as the danger is remote” (1612). However, Machiavelli continues, “when the danger is close at hand, they turn against you” (1612). Machiavelli strongly believes that it is better to be feared than to be loved, but he also makes a big point on being feared but not hated. He says that a prince can avoid hate by keeping his hands off of his citizens’ property and shedding blood only when necessary. Here it is clear that Machiavelli is in support of the death penalty, but he says that it should only be carried out with “a strong justification and manifest cause” (1612). However, Machiavelli doesn’t provide any more elaboration on what would be such an act that can be justified with the death penalty. This is where the debate still lies today, as there are many different perspectives on where to draw the lines between the crimes that are punishable by death and those that are not. This debate involves many different variables, including the age and mental state of the criminal, the context of the situation, and plenty of other factors. However, there is a larger debate on whether or not to even have a death penalty at all, and it is clear that Machiavelli is in support of such a penalty. Machiavelli’s own justification of the death penalty as a punishment is that “men are quicker to forget the death of a father than the loss of a patrimony” (1613). Perhaps property was worth much more back in Machiavelli’s time, but this idea that life is worth less than property may not apply in today’s society. Nonetheless, Machiavelli continues to align himself with the modern conservative in asserting his belief in a death penalty.

There are some non-partisan ideas that Machiavelli presents in his essays. Machiavelli says that it is not worthwhile actually being virtuous, a prince only needs to appear virtuous to his subjects. This is because he believes a prince “cannot possibly exercise all those virtues for which men are called ‘good’” (1614). A prince must be willing to “do things against his word” sometimes in order for his own best interest and the best interest of his state. Machiavelli also claims that princes should only keep their word when it is their best interest. He says that “a prince will never lack for legitimate excuses to explain away his breaches of faith” (1614). He essentially says that a prince must be a great liar, because “men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived” (1614). These two points—on appearing virtuous and keeping promises—are very much an issue in modern politics. Almost every politician in office has broken promises before, and the president gets the most flack for not keeping their word. Many politicians do their best to appear virtuous, despite having a skeleton in the closet. Some politicians have gone out of their way, lying and performing unethical acts in order to hide some “non-virtuous” acts of their past. Notable examples of this would be Nixon and the Watergate Scandal, or Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, but these are examples where their efforts have failed. Machiavelli’s ideas about lying and appearing virtuous are also seen on presidential debates. Each candidate will try to expose the others and find cases where someone has gone back on their promises, but each candidate accused of lying will always manage up an excuse or counterclaim, and in the end, one of them will end up in office.

Machiavelli’s timeless ideas in The Prince are still very much relevant in the modern political scene. He presents his thoughts on whether it’s better to be stingy or generous, and whether it’s better to be loved or feared. Through these essays, Machiavelli comes off as what would be considered a modern conservative. His thoughts on lying and virtuosity are still a major concern with modern politicians, because most of them are seasoned deception artists trying to appear more virtuous than they actually are. Machiavelli has surpassed the boundaries of time with his political ideas, and despite writing about how a prince should run his kingdom, many of his beliefs are still held with the politicians that run their countries.

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The Ends Justify the Means

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Prince, written by an Italian politician by the name of Niccolò Machiavelli, could be considered an instruction manual on how to be a successful ruler. His motto was that the ends justify the means, meaning that wrong doings can be justified by ones end goal. Machiavelli stressed that maintaining total power and control of your kingdom was important. The Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, is considered to be a Machiavellian. There are many examples of Putin following Machiavelli’s rules written in the book “The Prince.” They also share similar qualities, such as being manipulative. In many aspects, Vladimir Putin can be considered a modern day Machiavelli.

Rule 1: “Nothing makes a prince so much esteemed as great enterprises and setting a fine example .” (Chapter 21, pg 50) the first example of Putin following Machiavelli’s rules is by publicly displaying their victories through parades and showing his personality by speaking to his country. On May 9th, 2017 Russian and Syrian troops held a Victory Day parade. This was to mark the defeat of of Germany in the was of 1941-1945. Every year between June and April, Putin hosts the Direct Kine TV program. Putin speaks for hours and over two million messages are sent into the studio, stetting a fine example of himself.

Rule 2: “ He ought never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts the subject of war, and in peace he should addict himself more to his exercise then in the war; this he can do in two ways, the one by action, the other by study.” ( ch 14, pg 33) Putin strongly believes and follows this rule. “It’s obvious we cannot strengthen our international position, develop the economy and democratic institutions if we are not able to defend Russia” stated Putin in his Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. Putin has proposed military reforms saying their military has been chronically underfunded. These reformations would cost 770 billion dollars over a period of 10 years.

Rule 3: “ A prince is also respected when he is either a true fan friend or a downright enemy, that is to say, when, without any reservation, he declares himself in favor of one party against the other; which course will always be more advantages than standing neutral…” (Ch 21, pg 50) An example of Putin following this rule is the involvement with Crimea. At a certain point in time the Ukraine entered a period of chaos. An impressive navy base of Russia known as the Black Sea Fleet was “in danger of falling into anti-Russian hands” (prezi, Alice Mnebe). Putin took advantage of the chaos to invade Crimea to protect the Russian navy base. Putin then proceeded to annex Crimea to Russia.

Rule 4: “ therefore it is necessary for a prince to understand how avail himself of the beast and the man.” (Ch 18, pg 39)One of the traits that Micheavelli and Putin share is being manipulative. An example of Putin following this is with Malaysian Airflight 17. A passenger jet was shot down near Ukraine in July of 2014. All 298 passengers on board were killed. Ukraine and the West suspected Russian surface-to-air missle was to blame. Putin actively denied Russia’s involvement. He manipulates facts without any hesitation and no one from Russia questions his answers, including his response to the air-flight 17.

In conclusion, in many aspects, Vladimir Putin can be considered a modern day Machiavelli. Both Putin and Machiavelli share goals of maintaining complete and total power over government and military forces. Both agreed that “it is much safer to be feared than loved.” (Ch 17, pg 37) There are examples of Putin following Machiavelli’s rules from The Prince. It’s still unknown wether or not Putin has actually read “The Prince” but he is most definitely a Machiavellian.

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Main Themes of “The Island of Dr Moreau”

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

As time goes on what keeps these ideas relevant is the science and ethics e.g. change the experiments from vivisection to gene splicing or stem cell research and you can create a parallel to the arguments in Victorian Society. Now in the 21st century although it is established that experimenting on live animals is wrong, there are still questions around the ethics of science and how it is integrated into daily life. For example, cloning people and animals such as dolly the sheep who was cloned, experimenting on animals for science to engineer new medicines (which is quite similar to what Dr Moreau does) There is currently a petition in Australia demanding that animals who are tested on are rehomed unless they are significantly damaged as legally they have to be put down once they have been experimented on. Ideas such as manipulating genetics in order to create the perfect crop or human in which case you could eliminate certain diseases, create the child you would want. And even though in the 19th cenutry they were still quite far off the actual science to make these things happen, a lot of these concepts were written about and debated. For example Frankenstein explored the idea of what could happen when a scientist takes things to far. From the Earth to the Moon was published, the plot was centered around building a massive gun that can shoot people into space.


The Island of Dr Moreau is about a man named Prendick who gets shipwrecked and rescued by Dr Moreau’s colleague, he is invited to their island. Prendick discovers the island if full of animals that are being turned into people and Dr Moreau has been vivisecting them. These creatures are the Beast Folk and they follow their own code that is meant to stop them from reverting back to their animal roots. If they act like the animals they are, they will be experimented on by Dr Moreau. Dr Moreau’s goal is to make them fully human. Moreau later dies and the Beast Folk start becoming more animalistic without him there to punish them. Upon escaping to London, Prendick’s perception of people is altered dramatically and he constantly sees the primitive nature of the beast folk in humanity. To successfully express all these ideas the writing style is incredibly descriptive with elongated sentences, that maintain a happy medium, they are long but not too long and provide necessary information. But they aren’t straight to the point either and as the story comes from first person many pieces of information are not revealed until later. This first person narrator allows Prendick to share his thoughts around what is happening.


While today, its generally agreed that experimenting on live animals without any sort of anaesthetic is ethically wrong and cruel, in Victorian society it was a huge topic of debate as many Victorians believed animals had no souls and couldn’t feel pain like humans could. Morals and Ethics are to Dr Moreau, highly subjective and personal. While Prendick feels that vivisection is horrific and cruel, Dr Moreau sees it as necessary for mankind and human history. Moreau genuinely believes that he is doing the right thing. This text relates to ambiguity of evil because Dr Moreau is a morally ambiguous character.

While Moreau’s actions seem wrong he argues that there is no morality in nature “To this day I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter. The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature.” Dr Moreau doesn’t see any sort of morality in nature. And this simile is absolutely correct, nature has no remorse or moral code because morals and ethics are socially constructed ideas. This statement is hypocritical because if nature does not require morality then why does he enforce a code of living on the beast folk? Dr Moreau is quite a hypocritical character because despite how often he claims to believe in the natural order, he forces the beastfolk to abide by the same social constructs that people believe in which goes against their primitive nature.

  • “Not to go on all-Fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”
  • “Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”
  • “Not to eat Flesh or Fish; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”
  • “Not to claw Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”
  • “Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”

The repetition of the statement “that is the law. Are we not men?” shows that Dr Moreau is trying to civilise the natural world. And do something incredibly unnatural with the beastfolk. He gives them human standards to live by and creates ‘laws’. The 1970s band Devo had a song Jocko Homo which referenced these ideas with the lines “are we not men? We are devo” devo being short for devolution. The song implores us to ask that question as humanity leans towards a herd mentality abandoning critical thinking as our society gets dumber, therefore de evolving.

And he feels he is doing something good for humanity. “But,” said I, “I still do not understand. Where is your justification for inflicting all this pain? The only thing that could excuse vivisection to me would be some application—”

“Precisely,” said [Moreau]. “But you see I am differently constituted. We are on different platforms. You are a materialist.” This dialogue reveals that Dr Moreau sees himself as thinking about the big picture. He is willing to cause suffering for some individuals for what he perceives as the good of humanity. With the justification that “the end justifies the means” ultimately in relation to the entire universe, his actions aren’t that bad. He hyperbolizes to emphasise how large the universe is in comparison to how small his actions are”It may be that save in this little planet, this speck of cosmic dust, invisible long before the nearest star could be attained—it may be, I say, that nowhere else does this thing called pain occur.” Is Dr Moreau evil if he honestly believes he is doing the right thing? He does not match the trope of an evil character who inflicts pain on others with the intention on ruining lives. Whether intentional or not, Dr Moreau thrives on power and exerting control over the beast folk, playing god on his island and creating his own form of law and order. This power is expressed through the punishment and strict rules the beastfolk follow.

This is similar to the reasoning in the Prince by Machiavelli where he argues that a good ruler knows when to do bad things for the sake of his people, he adopts a consequentialist philosophy, where all decisions that are made should be based of what whether or not the consequences or good or worth it. “a ruler who wants to stay in power is often forced not to be good” Despite both of these text’s superficial differences they explore similar ideas that have the power to transcend context around ethics and good versus evil. And the relevance of these ideas can be seen in more modern retellings of the Island of Dr Moreau such as the films from 1977 and 1996 along with the parody in the Simpson’s Treehouse of Horrors. In these versions animal vivisection is replaced with stem cell research and genetic splicing to make them more contextually relevant and relatable for a modern audience.There is no conclusion as to Dr Moreau’s actions are right or wrong which forces him to remain morally ambiguous to the reader.

Machiavelli also argues that a leader must sometimes to things that are wrong to maintain power and stability writing that “What you have to understand is that a ruler, especially a ruler new to power, can’t always behave in ways that would make people think a man good, because to stay in power he’s frequently obliged to act against loyalty, against charity, against humanity and against religion.”

Machiavelli accumulates a variety of things rulers must go against for success to emphasise to the reader, who is intended to be Lorenzo de Medici what a ruler needs to sacrifice and what will be required of him to take power. This raises questions around the greater good and whether or not it is ever truly necessary to do something evil. Machiavelli argues that it is and that “Good sense consists in being able to assess the dangers and choose the lesser of various evils.” In this statement it is implicit that for a lot of decisions a prince will have to do something evil and weigh it against doing something even worse. This is similar to how Dr Moreau weighs up the morality of vivisection and how much net suffering he would cause in comparison to to how much net progress he thinks will come from his actions. Machiavelli discusses killing people who oppose your leadership for the sake of security and power. “Moses, Cyrus, Theseus and Romulus couldn’t have got people to respect their new laws for long if they hadn’t possessed armed force.” This historical and biblical allusion to notable past leaders in history has been selected to support his ideas to the reader that to be a legendary, ruler such as Romulus who allegedly founded Rome, violence is necessary. Without it no one will respect their new ruler and their new society and laws. It is necessary to commit acts of violence against people who would reject your authority because ultimately it will demonstrate strength and result in long term stability which is ultimately worth it to Machiavelli.

These sorts of moral dilemmas presented by Machiavelli are similar to the ones that Dr Moreau needs to deal with. In order to manage all the beast folk he must punish the ones who disobey him and create disorder. Dr Moreau’s island is symbolic of society and even referred to at one point as “society in miniature” and demonstrates a practical application of a lot of Machiavelli’s ideas albeit on a much smaller scale. Both of these texts relate to the rubric in how they address the same ideas and both of these texts put the responder in a position where they are forced to come to their own conclusions about the morality of their actions, allowing these texts themselves to remain morally ambiguous.

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