Macbeth and Machiavelli

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  • Topic: Macbeth, Tragic hero, Political philosophy
  • Pages : 2 (789 words )
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  • Published : December 6, 2000
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In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the main character, Macbeth, can be compared in many was to a Machiavellian prince. Macbeth's ambition to be king and his desire for power are the basis of Machiavelli's ideas, but when examined more closely we find many flaws in Macbeth's character that Machiavelli warns will be destructive. Although Macbeth has many Machiavellian characteristics, Macbeth's rise to power without true "fortune" or "virtue" leads him to his downfall.

The character of Macbeth is a classic example of a Shakespearean tragic hero. Macbeth's achieves his long time desire to be king, but his tragic flaw brings him to ruin. His character changes drastically during the play. At the opening of the play, Macbeth is considered strong and noble. As the play progress he is corrupted by many factors including: his wife's manipulation of his judgment, his curiosity about the witch's prophecy, and his ambition to be king. At the end of the play, Macbeth's own subjects bring him to his death because of his cruelty and weakness as a king.

Macbeth's character has many of the qualities that Machiavelli considers necessary to be "a prince." Most importantly, Macbeth is an excellent fighter. He has gained much of his power through his recognition for his admirable skills at battle time. Machiavelli would praise this quality of Macbeth; in that a prince's priority should always be war and that it is a necessity that the prince is a skilled fighter. In order to become prince, Macbeth turns on his friend and kinsman, King Duncan. With encouragement from his wife, Lady Macbeth, Macbeth is able to murder Duncan to become king, although Macbeth has always been considered a noble man. Machiavelli writes that in order to keep power a prince does not have to be loyal to his friends and subjects. He also states that "it is necessary for a prince…to learn how not to be good." Macbeth seems to be capable of having these qualities.

A lot of Macbeth's actions in the play are...
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