Machiavelli’s The Prince is an ambitious attempt to outline the steps necessary to ensuring success in leadership. The work dissects the elements of power; it identifies the sources from which it springs and the tactics required for its maintenance. His position rests on the claim that power is “acquired either through the arms of others or with one’s own, either by fortune or virtue” (Ch. 1, pg. 6), and he asserts that success in politics cannot exist outside of this basic framework. Centuries later, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. would rise from the masses as a leader, armed only with the candor of his objectives and their means. King is generally accepted by those who are familiar with his career in politics as a successful leader – one who’s ends were steadily achieved through the perserverence of his spirit and the support of his people. Yet Machiavelli states plainly that “all the armed prophets conquered, and the unarmed ones were ruined” (Ch.6, pg. 24). Machiavelli’s failure to account for the success of a leader as antithetical to his beliefs as King betrays a fundamental flaw in the former’s reasoning. Machiavelli’s understanding of true leadership and success is limited; he is short-sighted in assuming that all power must be absolute power, and fails to acknowledge that the oppressed and the great can ofttimes converge to strive toward an end greater than mere material acquistion.
King manifests none of the qualities Machiavelli identifies as virtuous. Rather than relying on cunning and ingenuity to manipulate or eliminate his adversaries and constituents, King achieves his goals “openly, lovingly…with a willingness to accept the penalty” (pg.294). Machiavelli would then assert that his rise would necessarily have to be precipitated by fortune. As he states, “the result of becoming a prince from private individual presupposes either virtue or fortune” (Ch. 6, pg. 22). Yet again, King neither relies on his own wealth, nor is he funded by any outside party throughout the entire duration of his career. And he certainly does not invoke the use of arms. King’s basic guideline for response is “non-violent direct action.” King emerges from the people as a leader, which at once distinguishes him from any of Machiavelli’s princes. According to Machiavelli, the interests of the governed are only important insofar as they affect the governor’s ability to lead. King however, rather than using the backs of the people as stepping stones, takes their burden on his shoulders and brings then to the forefront of public attention. Thus he is loved by the people he leades. Machiavelli warns leaders against this supposed danger. According to him, love can only be maintained through the continous expenditure of the leader on his people, their affections are bought. Yet, as he states,” friendships that are acquired at a price…are bought, but they are not owned and when the time comes cannot be spent…Love is held by a chain of obligation, which, because men are wicked, is broken at every opportunity for their own utility”(Ch. 17, pg. 66-67). However, the esteem King’s followers hold him in is different from that which Machiavelli warns leaders of; its perpetuation is not dependant on generosity and the doling out of material goods. King inspires a sort of love that is unconditionlal because it is based on intangibles. It is a genuine appreciation for the efforts and leadership provided by one of their own. When a leader such as King undertakes the struggle for such intangible conditions as justice and freedom, and for the exclusive benefit of the poplulace, he becomes endeared to the people, and thus gains a fortune that Machiavelli fails to identify: the undying, unconditional support of the masses.
As these two types of leaders originate from two opposite ends of the social spectrum, their views on fundamental elements of politics also differ drastically. Machiavelli and King differ almost antithetically in their views on positive law. To the prince, laws are but tools used to control the masses, not codes by which leaders must themselves abide. Furthermore, the existence of laws allows a means by which the Prince can both impress and terrify the populace through the callous breaking of them. The ability to transcend law makes the prince an awesome and powerful image to the people. King, on the other hand, holds laws in the highest possible respect: “In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law…an individual who breaks a law his conscience tells him is unjust, and willingly accepts the penalty…is in reality expressing the very highest respect for the law” (pg.294). King endeavors only to break unjust laws after carefully examining whether they truly ought to be broken. He operates within the bouds of the law, establishing himself further as a man of the people.
The most fundamental difference however, lies in each man’s definition of success, their ultimate end. To Machiavelli, the prince himself is his own end. Machiavelli’s ultimate goal is to find the means of securing stability throught the entire region of italy, and ensure its security. He believes this is only accomplished through the establishment of a powerful absolute sovereign. Thus, he guides his prince to use fortune and virtue to look out for himself at all costs, so as to rise above all obstacles to achieve total power. This definition of success is measured largely in material acquisition; the prince is to acquire and maintain control over a body of land, and it is the essence of his nature to do so: “…it is a very natural and ordinary thing to acquire, and always, when men do it who can, they will be praised or not blamed” (Ch.3, pg. 14). In such a political atmosphere, the prince operates alone: all others with any ambition toward leadership are but competitors after the same set of acquireable goods, and any objectors to his methods are obstacles to his goals. Thus rivals are eliminated and the people are terrified or manipulated into silence. To King, however, the people are an end in themself. According to him, “law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice” (pg. 295), so that the people may enjoy the highest degree of happiness in a society that treats all men as equal. He fights to bring justice and equality to the most oppressed sector of the population, and his success is measured by intangibles: the exposure of injustice, and the establishment of a “substance-filled positive peace” in which his people are recognized as equal members of society; in other words: justice. King’s end is entirely outside of himself, he is but an agent of and for the people; any ideas of personal gain are subjugated to the benefit of the greater good. By this definition, and through the knowledge of all that he did accomplish, Martin Luther King Jr. was indeed successful.
Machiavelli’s problem lies in that he identifies but two humors: “the people desire neither to be commanded nor oppressed by the great, and the great desire to command and oppress the people”(Ch.9, pg.39). From this conflict of interests stems the constant state of distrust between leaders and their people.
However, Machiavelli does not presuppose any condition in which the people might wish to work in harmony with a leader; namely, that instance in which a leader promises to rescue the oppressed from further injustice at the hands of the great. In such a case, the people do in fact desire to be commanded by a leader who does not ultimately wish to oppress them. King is the prime example of such a case. His end was genuine, just, and for the people, and the willing masses provided enough reinforcement even in the absence of fortune and Machiavellian virtue, that as an unarmed prophet he was able to succeed.
A Comparative Analysis of The Prince and Julius Caesar: Pragmatism over Morality
A comparative study of two texts reveals context as the primary influence upon the interplay between pragmatism and personality morality in an individual’s pursuit and consolidation of power. Driven by an overarching contextual desire for stable government, Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513) and William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (1599) demonstrates the incompatibility of personal morality and political success across their respective discussions of effective authority. Implementing his extensive diplomatic experience among Italy’s warring city-states, Machiavelli’s didactic treatise operates within a value system supremely favoring ruthless pragmatism over ethics in establishing and maintaining authority. While the relative liberality of the form enables Shakespeare to problematize Machiavelli’s binary perceptions of human nature, his ultimate desire to preserve the stability achieved under Elizabeth I’s reign leads him to favor pragmatism over morality in exercising authority. Therefore despite depictions of human nature nuanced by differing purposes, shared contextual priorities drive these composers to present aligned intertextual perspectives privileging pragmatism over morality in an individual’s pursuit of power.
Due to the volatile nature of politics, a leader’s success in maintaining authority is determined by their ability to suppress moral reservations and make calculated decisions to ensure political advancement. Upon the observation of Italy’s warring oligarchies rife with espionage and shifting alliances, Machiavelli offers opportunistic pragmatism as an infallible approach to maintaining authority to the treatise’s dedicatee, Lorenzo de Medici, in an attempt to re-enter Florence’s diplomatic elite. He dictates that a ruler “must pamper people or destroy them”, with high modality tone typical of an advisory handbook demonstrating Machiavelli’s binary perceptions of human conduct. He instructs his reader to “eliminate the family of the previous ruler” in a bid to establish authority over mixed monarchies, a euphemism detaching the moral implications of murder from the political advancement it yields. To palliate these controversial claims in his predominately Catholic context, he cites “Hannibal’s tremendous cruelty” as the leading factor in the general’s immovable authority, an allusion providing historical validation for his violation of the virtues espoused by leaders in the ‘Mirror of Princes’ genre.
Faced with a differing contextual purpose to both entertain and stimulate his seasoned theatrical audience, Shakespeare problematizes Machiavelli’s binary depictions of human nature. Brutus is referred to frequently with the epithet, “honourable”, endearing him to the audience for the very moral character that Machiavelli rejects. Furthermore Brutus struggles to suppress his innate morality, stating that he is “with himself at war”, a military metaphor demonstrating the complexities of negotiating pragmatism and morality. However Shakespeare, impressed with Queen Elizabeth’s ethically unsound methods of securing authority such as the legalization of torture against disobedient subjects, demonstrates the ultimate failure of leaders guided by blind idealism. Brutus makes a plea to spare Antony, calling for the conspirators to be “sacrificers, not butchers”, with this religious lexical choice signifying his politically unwise attempt to idealize Caesar’s assassination. Brutus’ trusting nature foolishly pushes him to permit Antony to address the plebeians, with Cassius pointing out, “Know you how much the people may be moved…?” This rhetorical question emphasizes and foreshadows the failure of Brutus’ idealism in the face of fickle public support. Therefore while differing purposes and forms present nuanced views of human nature, a shared value for the primacy of stable authority pushes both composers to value pragmatism over personal morality.
While the adherence to blind moral idealism is a hindrance to maintaining authority, an impression of it is necessary to preserve the symbiotic relationship between a ruler and his subjects. As civilian and interfamilial hostility spelled the downfall of many Italian oligarchies, Machiavelli suggests that a leader’s duplicitous nature is integral to maintaining authority over subjects. A ruler must “seem and sound wholly compassionate, wholly loyal…wholly religious.” Repetition of “wholly” amplifies the depth of public deception Machiavelli perceives as paramount for maintaining power. A leader should give the “impression of greatness, spirit, seriousness and strength”, a tetracolon of qualities Machiavelli believes a leader should display but not put into practice. He advises leaders to “overcome obstacles by force or fraud…(by studying) the politics of Cesare Borgia”, a contemporary allusion demonstrating his respect for Borgia’s reputable cunning, which Machiavelli keenly observed firsthand upon years of service in his court.
Shakespeare consummates Machiavelli’s precepts in his characterization of Antony, whose stirring public rhetoric finds its roots in the cult of individuality and propaganda perpetuated by the “Virgin Queen” as a highly effective measure of unifying the English embittered by years of religious conflict under the unified authority of her image. However, Shakespeare presents Antony as a morally ambivalent character as he pleads with Caesar’s corpse in a preceding soliloquy to “pardon (him)” for his false civility with the conspirators. Imperative demonstrates that Antony too is subject to stings of morality which Machiavelli disregards nonchalantly as a factor affecting humans seeking political authority. However Shakespeare supremely exalts Antony’s political cunning as he repeats emphatically is his oration to the plebeians that “Brutus is an honourable man”. Antistrophe allows Antony to project an impression of his own virtue while simultaneously undermining Brutus and the conspirators’ motives. Shakespeare includes stage directions to “come down from the pulpit”, placing Antony in close proximity to his audience, enhancing his plea to them as “friends” and thus equals. The success of Antony’s false virtue in seizing political authority is exemplified by the plebeians’ reaction, “Revenge! Seek! Burn! Slay!” This series of exclamations exemplify the success of Antony’s manipulations through rhetoric, echoing reactions to Elizabeth’s ‘Tilbury speech’. Therefore, like instances of civilian dissension in their respective contexts push both composers to advocate for false displays of virtue as paramount to preserving authority.
The overarching desire for stable government across the contexts of both Machiavelli’s The Prince and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar negates the effects of their differing purposes and forms to present aligned intertextual perspectives promoting pragmatism over morality for an individual’s acquisition and exercise of authority. Perhaps the nuanced discussions of human and morality across both texts constitute a true testament to the endless complexities of negotiating human nature in an individual’s pursuit of power.
Antithesis in 4th Soliloquy. The Prince’s Scale of Metaphysical Valance
Antithesis is a rhetorical device in which two contrasting words or concepts are juxtaposed within a parallel grammatical structure (literarydevices.com). In this case, the repeated use of this literary convention and the balanced structure it employs is meant to highlight the irony of the fact that Hamlet himself can’t seem to find a healthy balance: between anger and depression, reason and emotion, thought and action. Therefore, the use of antithesis in his fourth soliloquy serves to illustrate the uncertainty and dissymmetry that are defining aspects of his character. In the case of this soliloquy one of the most prominent effects of using antithesis is to accentuate the instability of Hamlet’s mindset.
Throughout the play, Hamlet proves himself unable to think evenly. He either idealizes a person or concept, or demonizes them; he sees no grey area, no in-between. A perfect example of this is how Hamlet vilifies his mother for marrying Claudius, partly because has a completely romanticized idea of what marriage should be. Hamlet’s inability to find balance is exemplified in the very beginning of the soliloquy. Hamlet, elaborating on his earlier query of “to be or not to be”, poses another question: “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?” (3.1.65-68) Hamlet is a man of extremes, and this is one of the key reasons why he cannot seem to find any semblance of inner peace. In his mind, there are only two options: live a life dogged by misery and ill luck, or rebel against cruel fate by committing suicide. He does not stop to consider that not everyone’s life abounds in suffering, or that perhaps killing oneself is not the only way to find peace. This is why he is so keen to use antithesis in this example, for such a literary device only allows for the presentation of two courses of action. It also helps to convey his warped view of what it means to take action.
By using the word “suffer” when speaking of life, he implies that humans are helpless beings at the mercy of fate. Yet he describes the act of suicide as taking up “arms”, as if killing oneself is actually an act of fighting back, even though it is usually seen as an act of cowardice. The irrationality of Hamlet is so prevalent throughout the play, that he himself is a walking paradox; he exemplifies the concept of antithesis itself. One reason Hamlet is not able to bring himself to act is because he is caught between righteous anger, crippling devastation, and cerebral thought. Using this parallel grammatical structure, he heaps the possible consequences that come with choosing either life or death like a merchant heaping weights upon a balancing scale, and yet still finds himself unable to come to any sort of conclusion. Hamlet gives voice to this concern when he says, “And thus the native hue of resolution/ Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,” (3.1.92-93). By going back and forth between whether it is better “to be or not to be” he is arguing himself into the ground.
Hamlet is, by nature, a man who adheres to reason. Gentry-born and well-educated, he has been taught to think logically and rationally. Therefore, he is not comfortable letting himself be guided purely by emotion. Whenever he seems to experience powerful feelings, whether due to anger, depression, or disgust, he reasons himself out of passion, and talks himself down from taking action. This self-entrapment is thrown into stark relief by the use of antithesis. What is interesting about this particular speech is that even though Hamlet is ostensibly contemplating suicide, he never actually uses the words “I” or “me” throughout the passage. He talks about death in an impersonal, general sense, and airs his thoughts on the merits of self-murder as if speaking on the behalf of all humanity, as shown by his repeated use of the words “we” and “us”. One can see this especially in lines 86-90: “But that the dread of something after death …puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of?” (3.1.86,88-90) This conveys in a way, a sense of arrogance, as he assumes that everyone would commit suicide to escape their troubles were it not for fear of the unknown. However, it also suggests that he knows that the question he posed in the first line of the soliloquy is one that he cannot answer. It is easier to accept this lack of closure if he pretends that he is only presenting the issue as a matter of abstract philosophical debate, because he cannot accept the fact that there is no easy solution to his problems. This is an established tendency of Hamlet: he thinks himself into circles, posing metaphysical quandaries that he knows he cannot solve. He cannot even bring himself to answer the inquiry that he himself asked, proven by the fact that he ends line 90 with a question mark.
Considering the purpose of antithesis is to emphasize the differences between opposite ideas, using this device to weigh his options should make the question of “to be or not to be” easier to answer. However, it does just the opposite. Hamlet is getting nowhere by following this train of thought, except reasoning himself into paralysis. Shakespeare adeptly wields antithesis in order to depict the disequilibrium that is Hamlet’s troubled psyche and convey the extent of his confusion.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. ED.
Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012. Print. Folger Shakespeare Library.
“Antithesis Examples and Definition – Literary Devices.” Literary Devices. N.p., 31 Dec. 2014. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
“Hamlet”To Be or Not to Be….”” Shakespeare Resource Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
Machiavelli’s Perspective On Politics In The Prince
What is Machiavelli’s understanding of the nature of politics in The Prince?
The thesis of this essay is that Machiavelli’s understanding of the nature of politics comprises of both the ideological and tangible effects necessary for a state to endure. This essay will attempt to discuss both, including Machiavelli’s thoughts on warfare, the methods of behavior of the Prince and how he must inhabit the traits of beasts. Following this, his ideas of rationality, fortuna and virtu and thoughts on the common people are discussed.
A large part of the Prince focuses on the importance of the state, warfare and how to fortify and acquire new states. Machiavelli entails the methods of acquiring new principalities and how to maintain them. He claims in Chapter XII of the Prince that the foundations of all states are good laws and good arms, indicating the importance that the military and usage of force holds in strengthening the state. Althusser (1999: 83) insists that the ‘instruments’ of force, consent and conflicting humours (the army, religion and laws respectively) are parts of the state and help in maintaining it. To apply each of these accurately whenever needed to fit the state’s requirements is what fashions popular politics. Following this, the army is seen as a state apparatus: essentially, the primary attribute of state power is that of armed force. The supremacy of arms over ideology is epitomized when Machiavelli insists that whereas an unarmed prophet will fail, an armed prophet is likely to succeed. From this it can be deduced that although ideology and the methods of behavior of a prince are clearly relevant to Machiavelli, the conduction of warfare and a possession of a strong army base are even more significant. In his understanding of politics, the formation and action of the army is essential and may be considered a tool to ensure the state is upheld. Hence, ideology and army act as components of politics rather than as stand-alone institutions.
Machiavelli instills great importance into how the Prince should act and insists that the Prince must have a duality of appearance, conducting himself as such that he arises public goodwill. As claimed by Gilbert (1984: 170) Machiavelli tried to formulate “rules of behavior” deduced from his own experiences. These rules, often in the form of deception, help the Prince garner the admiration of the public. Such deception is part of what Althusser (1999: 99) calls the ideological policy of the prince, and allows the prince to manipulate the common people with means that are justified by the ends, that is control of their thoughts. There is no question of it being ‘ideological demagogy,’ he claims, and is constricted to politics only, consisting of the Prince’s conduct and practice. Machiavelli asserts that fraud should be “well concealed: one should be a great feigner and dissembler.” This refers to the duality of appearance and how it is achieved: Machiavelli theorizes that the Prince will occasionally be forced to do evil, and when the case is so, the Prince should still disguise his immoral conduct as moral conduct (Althusser, 1999: 99.) Furthermore, Machiavelli believes that it is “much safer to be feared than loved” and only insists that if the prince cannot do both as it is “admittedly difficult,” he must at all costs avoid being hated by the common people. Additionally, although virtues are encouraged, they must not ensnare the Prince, Althusser points out, as necessity might require the Prince to relinquish these acts. Machiavelli’s underlying claim is that the Prince needs to do whatever is necessary to protect the state and ensure that it is stable. Political morality and morals are thus two very different things: the prince must be prepared to commit immoral acts if it facilitates the stability of his rule. Hatred by the people must be avoided at all costs as it implies class significance, as noted by Althusser, (1999: 101) who describes the ideological Prince as better suited to supporting the people rather than the nobles. Thus, a large part of Machiavelli’s political thought consists of ideology and the Prince’s actions rather than intentions (which, if not always virtuous, must always support the state.) It is emphasized that morality is irrelevant in the very separate notions of political morals and must be kept aside so that the idea of the Prince and his actions can arise public goodwill.
Machiavelli’s political thought includes his analogies between the Prince and animals and the characteristics they must share. He states that one must be a “fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten away wolves.” Althusser (1999: 95) explains this dual personality: one must become the master of both fraud and force. The lion is seen to be very fierce whereas the fox is very cunning. If a Prince possesses these qualities, he can ensure that he is a master of deception who is consistently one step ahead of others, and simultaneously one to exert fear. Additionally, Machiavelli relates the Prince and the centaur. The centaur is man as well as beast and thus employs the characteristics of both, allowing the Prince to exercise moral virtues that are predominantly seen as human while contemporaneously doing what is necessary, whether it be underhanded or ‘evil’, the trait of the animal. Machiavelli’s argument allows us to separate the character of the Prince into two halves, which we can see as advocating both moral and immoral behavior. He insists that it is important to use both for the state’s advantage, as virtues will arouse popular support and obligatory deceit naturally follows a level of cunning a prince must inhabit. His usage of animals in characterizing the acts a Prince must perform purport that human nature can be a hindrance when in a position of power and cannot survive alone.
The aforementioned aspects of Machiavelli’s thought tie in to his ideas of rationality and the greater good. As the prince’s dual personality infers, he must often commit acts of violence that cannot be seen in any way as morally virtuous but may on the other hand be viewed as politically moral. Althusser (1999: 92) claims that the Prince belongs to a “different realm of existence” and is thus not subject to the typical ideas of vice and virtue. For him, he must do whatever is necessary in order to ensure the consolidation of the state and is judged solely by his success. Henceforth the Prince is morally virtuous “through political virtue.” Machiavelli’s ideas of cruelty and rationality propagate a dispassionate brand of violence, one that is used simply in order to achieve the ends, that is a strengthened state. Once notions of morality are removed, the violence is observed to be impersonal and orchestrated, rendering it an act of practicality. Gilbert (1984: 176) further explains this idea of rationality by stating that Machiavelli follows the line of thought believing politics to be an ‘exacting mistress’ which man’s entire behavior and action must be adjusted towards. The commands of politics therefore reign supreme and man should be entirely ‘homo politicus.’ Essentially, this requires man to answer to and obey the commands of politics whether they be laden with deceit and underhanded behavior that cannot be morally justified. Machiavelli must then be regarded as a proponent of a “rational psychology,” adds Gilbert, (1984: 190) – meaning that he believes a Prince’s acts can be rationalized if one considers the positive effect they will have on the state. Machiavelli redefines the ethics of statesmanship and governance by justifying occasional violence, as in his opinion this is entirely impersonal and serves a larger purpose. However, it must be noted that he does not by any account favour violence over peace and morally just actions, even as he deems it necessary at times. Although he continually claims that amoral action might often be the most effective when dealing with various political issues, Gilbert (1984: 196) reminds us that he did not in any way show a “preference for amoral actions” and was not a conscious advocate of evil. It is determined that it was not Machiavelli’s intention to upset moral values, but as previously mentioned, simply irrelevant in the context of active politics.
Machiavelli also employs the ideas of ‘fortuna’ and ‘virtu’ when analyzing the accession of power by a Prince and the maintenance of it. Gilbert (1984: 179) defines Machiavelli’s usage of the word virtu as the “fundamental quality of man” which enables him to achieve great deeds and works. Virtu is described as an innate quality free of external circumstances and is necessary for leadership, and is a single minded will which leads to victory for those who possess it. Machiavelli insists that it is a prerequisite for a successful state and is not restricted solely to the Prince – for example, it is also possible for the army to have virtu. According to him, governments cannot function without it. Virtu is followed by fortuna – these are the external circumstances that virtu is free of and is essentially good fortune. In relation to virtu, Machiavelli insists that although fortuna may be regarded as the ruler of half of an individual’s actions, it is entirely possible for humans to oppose it and act as a counterweight. Gilbert (1985: 194) describes virtu and fortuna as two entirely different forces that are pit against one another and are in constant competition to determine one’s situation. As countering fortuna is an opportunity only offered fleetingly, man must take charge in a “meeting between circumstance and individuality.” Althusser elucidates the meeting of virtu and fortuna in three stages: correspondence, non-correspondence and deferred correspondence. In correspondence, fortuna and virtu meet to form a “durable principality.” In non-correspondence, fortuna alone determines one’s fate and is seen as highly undesirable as the individual in question is not adequately endowed with virtu. Deferred correspondence refers to a situation when the individual is favoured by fortuna and is able to meet it with his virtu. Thus, Machiavelli’s political theory delves into both the microcosm and macrocosm and how they play part in determining the Prince. He renders this crucial to the state: as the figurehead, the Prince’s ability and fortune have a direct impact on the stability of his rule and the state he leads. Natural environment and free will, although competing forces, can be met by foresight. This is similar to the ideas of determinism versus agency – in this situation, Machiavelli believes human control can only get one so far and is not a concrete force.
Although much emphasis is placed on the Prince and his methods of behavior, Machiavelli similarly examines the beliefs and actions of the common people. He claims it is not of much significance to analyze them as individuals but more relevant to study them as a mass – what Machiavelli calls ‘il volgo.’ Althusser (1999: 97) narrates that the majority of the people Machiavelli refers to are law-abiding citizens that primarily desire safety and security and did not reek of ambition and greed for power. However, there is a small minority that “will stop at nothing to satisfy them.” The people are described as easily swayed and manipulated and often trust appearances more than reality, and Machiavelli believes the Prince ought to take advantage of their blindness. The individuals who see the reality of the situation will not dare oppose popular rule in fear of persecution. Subsequently, every political action must be carefully structured so as to not arouse the peoples’ suspicion and maintain their trust and goodwill. The prince must respect the peoples’ ideology, reminds Althusser, (1999: 97) if he wants to transform it. This will produce effects beneficial to his politics. As mentioned above, ideology plays a key role in determining people’s thought processes, and from this one can see just how malleable Machiavelli maintains that the common people are. Their tractable nature is crucial in the stability of the Prince’s rule, as if they are subject to the truth, they will undeniably disagree with the political morality the Prince practices.
Conclusively, this essay discusses the many elements of Machiavelli’s political thought. It details his ideas of state and warfare, the methods of the Prince and the dual nature he must possess, that is of the human and the beast. Furthermore, Machiavelli’s analyses of rationality alongside fortune, goodwill and the common people’s role in the state are explored.
How Political Ideas In Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince Relate The Modern Politics
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.
“The Prince” Analysis
Nocolo Machiavelli’s book The Prince was published in 1532, five years later of his death. He left noteworthy facts and tips about leadership qualities one should possess who was given a responsibility to rule some land or territory and for someone who was given a lead for a managerial position. The content he wrote in his book reflected the experiences he tasted during several roles he played in his life including being a senior diplomat, commander and also a traitor for the country he served. This book was written as a sort of advice for the kings and politicians recommending a long list of cunning schemes to sustain their front running position. Moreover, this advice was found to be helpful yet unethical for sustaining a monarchy and for general politicians of his time. It has been known widely how The Prince attempts to separate power from ethics, and that having good character is not sufficient for leadership, people may find it harsh but Machiavelli was a crystal-clear realist who understood the art of limitations and use of power. His writings are now considered an important fragment of European art and literature also being studied around the globe for educational and practical purpose displaying how a leader can perform effectively, labelled as a 16th-century political treatise providing guidance on today’s competitive environment.
When considering the modern politics on several leadership platforms, this book has been working as a hideous cheat sheet for the ones who don’t care about the consequences. This book is a must-read for the CEOs and Managers who are in a need of coming up with strategies and tactics to have a leading or competitive edge over their employees, as there are nuggets of wisdom hidden inside this book for several situations. There are aspects of Machiavelli’s teachings that are certainly controversial and should be viewed in the light of historical context. Below are some of the cunning yet influential advises in a managerial context given by Machiavelli being implemented and practiced by several project managers or leaders as a great helping tool for their management capabilities,
It is not titles that honour men, but men that honour titles
This statement proves how much anyone has to work hard in proving himself as the deserved one for the level he is currently working on. This advice from Machiavelli was to someone who is supposed to be getting promoted to lead something bigger than himself. A leader cannot maintain his prominent role unless he is too lazy to work hard for it. When looking at the evil side of Machiavelli’s proposition of sustaining leadership, one must go as far as he can to maintain his image among the people he’s surrounded with. (Anderson, n.d.)
Distrust Mercenaries and Auxiliaries
This suggestion from Machiavelli is completely applicable and close to the truth in 21st century. You would understand more clearly if you have been appointed as a leading manager for some project and you’ve been supplied with a team of externals to lead, the externals might not perform that swiftly than the internals who are more loyal to you and the firm they are working for. It’s a proven fact of how using an external force for help or management has always led to disastrous conditions for a project and its managers. Although, most of the context in Machiavelli’s The Prince should be discarded because of the unethical advice in usage of power or for attainment of power is wrong. But this droplet of wisdom is clearly very helpful and fruitful when implemented in project management strategies. (Peeters, n.d.)
It’s better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both
In project management, the idea of having fear for the project leader might be much more beneficial when it comes to the outcomes. Machiavelli recommended how a ruler should be polite and loved by his people but also, he must be feared by the same people or his monarch will soon be eaten up by his own people. Same goes with a project management strategies where a manager having a kind appearance with strict methodology of getting his work done is preferred than a manager who is either way too polite with his team or always behaves strictly. Only the one sustains who works with moderation in between politeness and being strict with his team at the same time. (Ratner, n.d.)
The end justifies the means
The above written line is quoted by Machiavelli, he explains how nobody cares for what you went through to achieve your current position you are at now, everybody cares about is what you own right now. So, if you need to get your hands dirty to achieve what you desire, you’re most welcome to do it. This statement explains what most of the content in Machiavelli’s book is about, these cunning and selfish statements are what kept his writings unexplored by thousands.
Somehow, Machiavelli’s work has been more perceived in making grand strategies for politics and diplomacy, but this work was generated back in the 16th century and this not the world we live in today. Obama, being one of the successful presidents in the history of USA was recommended to read the price in order to understand the tactics and monopolies of politics to complete his tenure as a president. This recommendation shows the value The Price carries of sustaining a certain leading position. But at the same time, this book only carries the dark path to success for only Princes and Kings to justify their glory and survival. Using Machiavelli’s content to justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends is completely wrong in terms of the politics in today’s society. (Davis, n.d.)
Machiavellianism, preferring reality over idealism to solve real problems makes this book more debatable as it is bringing a transformation in the political world of position management. People have died making this world a more livable and ideal place but the current situation of this modern world looks more disturbing than the previous ones. So maybe, up to some context, Machiavelli, founded solution to the modern political theory. On the other hand, as a writer, Machiavelli also warned us about the tactics people could use to when looking for their interest. These warnings might be helpful to come up with more defensive and stronger strategies to look out for competitors. Sometimes, you actually can take an advantage over your opponents by losing control of your moral values, this is helpful in getting rid of the cheap tactics the rivals make. Machiavelli wrote all these advices because he thought these was necessary, realizing your mistakes might be the only solution to get back to your place inside your market. (Anon., n.d.)
The Prince can be a thorough guide for people who are having bad intentions of over taking your position inside the market, providing a step by step philosophical guide in ruining their competitors business with immoral approaches. A person reading his writings may have dealt through a harsh personal background regarding family or work, persuading him to hurt somebody physically or mentally to achieve what he might have never received from the society. (Anon., n.d.)
Problems and Dangers
Machiavelli didn’t only advise the conversion of idealism into realism, he explained each and every step to be taken thoroughly, in this modern political environment where everyone is trying to defeat their competitors, this book full of philosophical wisdom might get in the wrong hands and the wrong interpretation of it might lead to huge disasters like murders. About the quote of preferring fearfulness over mercy, this modern world has left the practice of being feared way past behind. Nothing can be conquered here by fear but politeness seems to be the answer. Taking an example, in a competitive market where two same products are competing with same pace cannot blackmail their competitors to leave but with leveraging dialogues between the two parties might help them come with a better strategy together to rule the entire market. Machiavelli suggest leaders to be double faced, which might when realized, raise anger among their audience worsening the situation than the hypothetical situation leader assumed by being honest.
The neglecting fate of the Prince shows why some of the utopian societies built in this world preferred realism over idealism, one cannot bend reality over an ideal hypothetical place. In my opinion, what Machiavelli wrote was advice for a practical action that was maybe the only way he saw at his time. Although, it can be used in a really evil way, what determines it is who is applying these advices and in which context, more than the advices itself.
Review of Niccolo Machiavelli’s Book, The Prince
The Prince by Machiavelli is one of the most influential treatises in human history, conceived by Italian political theorist and diplomat, Niccolo Machiavelli. The Prince is often regarded as one of the first true examples of modern philosophy, most notably, political philosophy, and Machiavelli addressed many different attributes of politics, war-time strategies and the implementation of religion in correspondence with politics. As Machiavelli believed, the Catholic Church was a similar type of “princedom” as the others, capable of competition to attempt to conquer Italy against all of the other types of princes. To Machiavelli, the Catholic Church was capable of strict governance of Italy and was actively engaged in politics in the 15th and 16th century. As such, a significant portion of the The Prince is dedicated to understanding the extensive reach of the Catholic Church into the political realm during this time.
To Machiavelli, the final type of principality that exists is that of the ecclesiastical state, which is comprised of and led by a center of organized religion. (Strauss, 103) Machiavelli believed that the chief capacity of this principality to remain in power was the ability to govern people and command their attention and loyalty, as the churches and religious institutions are delegated this authority by a higher power, and one that can instill a sense of unflinching servitude into the people. (Machiavelli, 31) As Machiavelli illustrates, they do not have a system of defense for their countries nor do they actively govern their body of citizens, and yet, the people never attempt to overthrow them or remove them from office. Machiavelli points to the success of these states as the defining attribute of the types of servitude that the citizens perform and engage. Machiavelli believed that these institutions and the regions controlled by them were so powerful, that the only realistic avenue for obtaining control of these states is through unusually good fortune or a high level of military prowess. (Machiavelli, 31)
As Machiavelli discusses, the strength of the Catholic Church came in the form of its capacity to govern without some ingrained system of government. The church’s prominence is brought forth by the strength of religion and the capacity through which religious individuals are able to serve the leaders of these institutions without question or fault. Often times, other entities will also not seek to invade or harm these lands and principalities due to the religious consequences of doing so. (Machiavelli, 32) Such an action could potentially harm one’s own ability to receive rewards of good behavior during one’s life, which is a tenant of many different religious sects. This in itself is enough to guarantee the prominence of these states and their own safety. Furthermore, the subjects of these states require little administration, in Machiavelli’s belief, due to the same reasons that are mentioned above. The religious doctrines that govern individuals is prominent enough in its execution and meaning to deter those who would otherwise interfere with politics and the aims of the church’s political advances. This, coupled with the establishment of the Catholic Church as the principle administer of the ideas and opinions of God, limited any and all political interference from the public and the citizen class throughout the country. (Machiavelli, 31)
Machiavelli also notes the capacity of the Church’s ability to gain affluence and their willingness to navigate through political avenues and strategies to continue this level of power. As Machiavelli highlights, Italy itself was once segmented into the different city-states of Florence, Milan, Naples and Venice. (Machiavelli, 31) Each one of these powers was very wary of the authority and dominion of the other and often times did everything in their capacity to stop the foreign intervention of any other state. During this time, the authority of the Pope was fairly limited, due to the disagreements between the barons in Rome regarding this authority and the overall short duration that the papacies tended to last. (Machiavelli, 31) Machiavelli noted that the short lives of the Popes was often a cause for a general inability of the Church to actively engage in politics or make any significant advances in how politics were conducted and the Church’s authority in these matters. In this regard, the establishment of the Church as a power was not able to be realized because of the inability of the Church to have time to ensure that their goals were achieved before the next Pope took the throne. This in itself changed significantly though, after the rise of Alexander VI, who was both an ambitious and militaristic individual. Popes Alexander VI and Julius II were able to greatly increase the affluence of the Pope in these regions. Pope Alexander VI was able to acquire wealth and land for the Church, while simultaneously commanding armed forced and factions to weaken the opposition that stood in the way of the Church. (Machiavelli, 32)
Julius II operated in much the same way, catering to a sense of factionalism with any remaining authorities as a way to guarantee the prominence of the Italian state as a representative of the Church, and vice versa. Through the implementation of force and the bearing of arms that happened by these two individuals, the strength and prominence of Italy was able to rise exponentially and the country was largely unified under the authority of the Church itself. (Machiavelli, 31) Machiavelli was a staunch opponent of the Church and the presence that it had in politics at all, and it is largely due to the influence of the church that he notices while he is theorizing on politics. (Machiavelli, 31) Machiavelli believed that the Church’s authority in matters such as those concerning politics was far too extensive. Realistically, he understood the capacity of religious entities to be models for the consolidation of power and authority. As he viewed it, it, the Church was largely able to gain dominion over the country due to the extreme consolidation of authority and the way that they implemented armed forces as an extension of the Catholic God’s will. (Machiavelli, 32) Furthermore, the Church was able to vastly acquire wealth and systems of strategic advantage as a means to perpetually assert the control over their opponents.
By the time that Julius II came into authority, the Church was already so prominent due to their strict and swift managing of political dissidents and the overall lack of barons or opponents. (Parsons, 14) Machiavelli believed that one of Julius’ chief concerns was to accumulate a significant amount of wealth to differentiate the Church from the other authorities throughout the region. As such, it was the belief of Machiavelli that this was Julius’ most defining, successful characteristic. He was able to keep the factions such as the Colonna and Orsini within the same boundaries that they had before he came along. (Machiavelli, 31) In this regard, Julius was able to essentially eradicate these factions from prominence as he was swiftly in control of the fact that they were not allowed to have any cardinals of their own, which further supplanted the authority of the Church itself. Julius understood the role that cardinals often played in helping catalyze rebellions or open acts of resistance but Machiavelli argues that they were quickly and authoritatively suppressed by the Church at essentially every attempt that they made to move against the Church. (Machiavelli, 32)
One of the most prominent ways that the Church was able to manifest its political power was through the collecting of indulgences and the active gaining of funds from the commoners through the collecting of indulgences. In order for the people to justify their sins and ask for forgiveness, they were supposed to make donations to the Church, which was how Alexander VI was able to chiefly fund the military campaigns that he undertook throughout his reign as Pope. (Machiavelli, 31) The overall nature of the Catholic Church at this time was one that was highly involved in the political landscape and significantly powerful enough to maintain authority throughout all of Italy. As Machiavelli noted, the Pope was heavily involved in all political affairs during this time and were also subject to the worldly ambitions of maintaining dominance and controlling the means of production through Italy. (Machiavelli, 31) There is a certain level of irony and sarcasm in Machiavelli’s statements that he cannot discuss a state that is ordained by the Lord.
In this moment, Machiavelli makes aware the nature of his critique of the strength of the Papacy and the Catholic Church in itself. The Church largely controlled the elections and shifts of power in each region of Italy, as they controlled a large portion of the economy and the influence that cardinals were able to hold over the citizens in these regions. As Machiavelli notes, they were adept at militaristic maneuvers and were able to capture the regions held by their opponents by enforcing the authority of God over the citizens there. (Machiavelli, 32) The popes always had some level of privilege and authority over what occurred in the Italian continent but Machiavelli notes that the true authority of the Church grew during this time because of their aggressive campaigns and the actions of individuals such as Alexander VI who were able to lay waste to the countryside, under the guise of the promotion and indoctrination of religion. (Machiavelli, 32) Machiavelli understood the power of religion as a device for instilling servitude and it was evident in the capacity that the Popes had to collect money from the people.
According to Machiavelli, the Catholic Church was heavily influential in politics throughout the 15th and 16 centuries. While it can be said that these entities did not have a significant level of influence at first, due to factors such as the short lives of the Pope and the authority of the Roman barons presiding over each faction and region, the Popes were able to gain a significant level of authority and dominion over the commoners of Rome due to actions of individuals such as Alexander VI and Julius II. These men were capable of utilizing the ideological ammunition of the Church to help propagate ideas of war and the collection of indulgences to a degree that easily facilitated the military campaigns that they were interested in undertaking at the time. Through a careful dominion and an ideological type of control, the Papal states were able to catalyze the control over the region and in turn, took dominion over the different barons and leaders that were present in Italy at the time. Through managing resources and the forces of the Italian army, the Pope moved up in terms of the overall authority that he had and the level of control that was asserted throughout the country. Eventually, the authority of the barons and other officials was drastically limited as well, largely due to the Pope’s presence and in turn, the Catholic Church became the most dominant institution in the country in regards to politics and the overall nature through which they were managed and the country itself was maintained.
Sun Tzu’s and Niccolo Machiavelli’s Plan of Dictating a Country’s Power as Illustrated in, The Art of War and The Prince
To take over a nation or organization, the cleverest method to take would be by following the wise advices of Sun Tzu in his remarkable work the Art of War and Machiavelli in his notable work The Prince. By following these wise strategies, perhaps not only a country, but the whole world can be taken over. Although written in the beginning of time, Tzu’s strategies are still relevant and effective; “There was no greater war leader and strategist than Chinese military general Sun Tzu” (Jackson, 2014). Machiavelli, an infamous strategist, wrote the Prince as a theory of an effective government and “famously asserted that good rulers sometimes have to learn “not to be good”, they have to be willing to set aside ethical concerns of justice, honesty, and kindness to maintain the stability of the state” (“Niccolo Machiavelli and the Prince”, 2013). This paper will explore how a country can realistically be dominated and overcome by following key advices by Sun Tzu from his work The Art of War and Machiavelli from his work the Prince.
The first thing a leader needs to take over a country is trust in themselves. They have to have strong foundations and foreseen future with his or her goals achieved. Rather than following other leaders’ examples, it’s significant to set one’s own path. It wouldn’t be favored to follow someone who’s already following someone else’s footsteps. People are hungry for a natural born leader. However, regardless of how good intentioned one initially was, all that has to be left behind with the promise of taking over a nation. According to Machiavelli, the greatest leaders aren’t the most just are most good-hearted ones, but instead the greatest leaders are those who does whatever it takes to get to their goal.
Once the trust in self and the priorities of what needs to be done is set straight, the target, namely the enemy, needs to be analyzed and observed. The enemy will be the leader of the nation the leader is attempting to take over. This is why good intentions need to be left behind, because although you want to get to your goal, you have to realize many people are going to lose their lives over this cause and the rest are going to have to live for a ruler who killed their family and friends, but these things must be ignored. To be able to go through with the plan initially created, it must be ignored. Prior to actually trying take over the targeted nation, the leader of that nation will be spoken to. It’s wiser to make an offer or talk things out before actually taking action, and by doing this one can also analyze and observe the enemy. While this interaction, it’s wise to act the way that is predicted. “Engage people with what they expect; it is what they ae able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment – that which they cannot anticipate” (“The Art of War”, n.d.). The enemy at this point is going to assume they already know the way you think and how you plan things out. Once action is already taken, the enemy will not have expected what was coming their way from the very beginning. When the enemy is relaxed, assuming that we are weak and basically a joke for the approach taken against them, is when it’s time to attack. Not only will the enemy be taken by surprise, but with the help of a well-spirited and loyal army the whole thing wouldn’t take too much up of a time.
As can be seen, both Niccolo Machievelli and Sun Tzu has provided the countless number of generations after them with the most valuable advices that can’t be compared. With the help of these advices, one who sets their mind on something can truly take over an organization, or perhaps even a country. By initially having full trust in yourself and being deceptive in your ways, a leader sets a path open for him or herself. Being deceptive is the key for not allowing the enemy know your true intentions and fool them to think that you’re predictable when in fact you are about to conquer the one thing they live for. Although the best victory is one taken without the means of battle and war, if necessary, it’s critical to have a loyal army that will follow you to the end of your dreams.
The Aspects of Social Class and Proper Behavior in Society in Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Mark Twain’s novels The Prince and the Pauper and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer tells the fictional story of young boys in a real society that existed. In The Prince and the Pauper, the pauper, Tom Canty, and the prince, Edward Tutor, exchanges roles as a result of a huge misunderstanding. Tom experiences the life of a prince and later king while Edward goes on an adventure as a pauper in his country. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer tells the story of a mischievous young boy, Tom Sawyer, growing up the fictional town of St. Petersburg, Missouri in the mid-nineteenth century. In both of the novels, Twain uses irony and satire to criticize aspects of society: social class in The Prince and the Pauper and proper behavior in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
The Prince and the Pauper begins by contrasting two boys who were born on the same day in the same town of London, England. One of the boys was “born to a poor family of the name of Canty, who did not want him [and the other] was born to a rich family of the name of Tudor” (Prince and the Pauper 13). Because of their social class differences, their lives are completely different with one living a godlike life and the other living the life of a rat.
Unlike others at the bottom of the social hierarchy, Tom Canty is literate and knows a bit of Latin. This is ironic because generally peasants were not able to read, write, and were uneducated. Tom’s ability to be literate and ability to learn a different language shows that a person of a low status like Tom’s is able to have the capability to be intelligent, which contradicts the upper class’s belief of the lower class. Tom, as a king, is a better ruler and rules with more logic than Henry VIII. At one point in the book, “elderly heads [of the court] nodded in recognition of Tom’s wisdom” (Prince and the Pauper 106). Henry VIII allowed injustice to run free in his country and had turned a blind eye to it. As king, Tom uses his position to abolish the unjust laws and defends the falsely accused. If one were to compare a pauper and a king ruling Tudor England, the king would obviously be considered the one to make wiser decisions in managing his country. Just the thought of a pauper running the country would be outrageous because the pauper would be thought of as being incapable to rule but ironically in The Prince and the Pauper, it is the pauper who is the better king.
Twain uses the mix-up of a prince and a pauper to satirize social class. In a hierarchy, a prince would be considered above and better in every way possible when compared to a pauper. The fact that no one, not even the prince’s own father and closest relatives, was able to distinguish between Tom, from the lowest of the social classes, and Edward, from the highest of the social classes, shows that there is nothing different between someone of an upper class and someone of an lower class. The only difference between Tom and Edward was not the person, their abilities, or their capabilities, it was the wealth that their family has.
Another aspect of society and social class that Twain satirizes is how people judge the worth or qualities of a person by basing it solely on their appearances. In Tudor England, “the social status of any social class or person is estimated through appearance”. Twain criticizes how a “person’s true worth is based on that person’s outward appearance” (Feller). Tom and Edward were labeled by the clothes they wore. Tom immediately became a prince when he wore the clothes of a prince and Edward became a pauper when he wore the clothes of a pauper.
In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom Sawyer’s life is bounded the rules of proper behavior in society. He is expected to go to school, go to church, read the bible, and obey the adults. Instead of behaving properly, Tom is constantly violating the rules of society. “Tom is contrasted to both Sid, the “good boy” who loses the reader’s sympathies as immediately as Tom gains them, and to the outcast, Huck”. Ironically, Huck, who is despised by every mother in the town, is envied and viewed as a role model for Tom and many other boys in the town. Sid, the good boy, is loved by the adults, but is not liked at all by the boys.
Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn become heroes at the end of the book not because they were abiding by the codes of proper behavior, but because they went against it. The boys discovers the murder of Doc Robinson by sneaking out in the middle of the night, which is not what they were supposed to do. Knowing the truth of the murder, Tom is able to save Muff Potter, whose life is on stake because he was framed for the murder. Huck is also able to save the Widow Douglas from being mutilated by Injun Joe. Twain satirizes the fact that being a hero or a role model is done by doing what you are supposed to do, and behaving in what is considered the proper way to behave in society. The society in which Tom Sawyer lived essentially wanted everyone to be followers.
Twain satirizes the adults in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The adults expect children to abide the the rules of behavior at all times which they themselves could not do, In one part of the book, Tom is in church and sees a situation between a dog and a beetle. The dogs was jumping around attempting to catch the beetle and interrupting the church procession. The adults of the church were “red-faced and suffocating with suppressed laughter [and] even the gravest sentiments were being received with a smothered burst of unholy mirth (Adventures of Tom Sawyer (36).” The adults should have stopped the dog from causing any distractions but instead they laughed through the entire church gathering.
Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are historical fiction novels that took place in real societies. In both of the novels, Twain criticizes society as the boys go through their adventures. Irony and satire to criticize social class in The Prince and the Pauper and what is considered proper behavior in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Lorenzo il Magnifico
Lorenzo de’ Medici Italian merchant prince, called Lorenzo il Magnifico [the magnificent]. He thrived in 1464. His father, Piero de’ Medici, as head of the Medici family and as virtual ruler of Florence. One of the towering figures of the Italian Renaissance, he was a sharp politician, firm in purpose, yet pliant and tolerant, a patron of the arts, literature, and learning and a reputable scholar and poet. Without adopting any official title, he subtly managed to conduct the affairs of the Florentine state.
His lavish public entertainments contributed to his popularity, but, in combination with his mediocre success as a businessman, they helped to drain his funds. His growing control of the government alarmed Pope Sixtus IV, who helped to foment the Pazzi conspiracy (1478) against Lorenzo and his brother, Giuliano de’ Medici. Giuliano was stabbed to death during Mass at the cathedral, but Lorenzo escaped with a wound, and the plot collapsed. Lorenzo retaliated against the Pazzi, and Sixtus excommunicated him and laid an interdict on Florence. An honorable peace was made not long afterward.
In 1480, in order to retrieve his huge financial losses, Lorenzo used his political power to gain control over the public funds of Florence. The city, however, flourished, and Lorenzo, who played an important role on the international scene, constantly worked to preserve general peace by establishing a balance of power among the Italian states. Through his credit with Pope Innocent VIII he obtained a cardinal’s hat for his son Giovanni (later Pope Leo X). In spite of the attacks of Girolamo Savonarola, Lorenzo allowed him to continue his preaching. Lorenzo spent huge sums to purchase Greek and Latin manuscripts and to have them copied, and he urged the use of Italian in literature. His brilliant literary circle included Poliziano, Ficino, Luigi Pulci, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. He was a patron of Sandro Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Filippino Lippi, Andrea del Verrocchio, Michelangelo, and other famed artists. His own poetry—love lyrics, rustic poems, carnival songs, sonnets, and odes—shows a delicate feeling for nature. His son Piero de’ Medici succeeded him as head of the family but was expelled from Florence two years later. Although it was a maxim of Medici policy to retain close ties with the Holy See, relations between Lorenzo and Pope Sixtus were not always cordial. The Pontiff was very displeased when Lorenzo’s diplomacy achieved an alliance between Florence, Venice, and Milan, for such a combination was more than a match for the armies of the Church.
Sixtus felt thwarted in his ambitions to expand the papal territory and uneasy about the safety of what the Church already held. His hostility grew when he learned that Lorenzo was trying to buy the town of Imola, which was strategically important. Consequently the Pope agreed to a plot designed to rid Florence of both Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano. The chief conspirators were the Pazzi family, a rival banking house and bitter enemies of the Medici. The plan was to assassinate the two brothers at a moment when their guard would be down, during the celebration of Mass on Easter Sunday, April 26, 1478. Giuliano was slain, but Lorenzo escaped with wounds. The people of Florence rallied to the Medici standard and visited a terrible retribution on the hapless conspirators, most of whom did not survive the day. Among those killed was Francesco Salviato, Archbishop of Pisa. The private fortune of the Medici did not fare so well under Lorenzo’s management as did the economy of Florence. This is attributable to the fact that he tended to neglect business, so preoccupied was he with diplomatic and cultural concerns. It is not accidental that the last decade of his life coincided with the period of Florence’s greatest artistic contributions to the Renaissance. He paid with a lavish hand the painters Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Fra Filippo Lippi to add beauty to the city. The humanist John Lascaris and the poet Angelo Poliziano traveled great distances at the behest and the expense of Lorenzo in search of manuscripts to enlarge the Medici libraries. What could not be bought was copied, and Lorenzo permitted the scribes of other eager book collectors to copy from his stores.