The Prince: Analysis and Response
Machiavelli, born in Florence in 1469, remains one of the most controversial authors to this day. His work demonstrates his expertise with military power, political success and historical events. His experience and understanding is a sum of all aspects of his life—from serving on the commune of Florence to carrying out his own military missions. Even when Machiavelli was accused of conspiracy and sentenced to a period of exile and torture, that did not keep him from producing some of his most influential work, including The Prince. The final, most renowned section of this book focuses on the qualities and assets of a prince, himself. Although many other theorists have covered the topics expressed, Machiavelli—being the pragmatist that he is—insists that practical, rather than ideal rules should be applied toward a Prince’s characteristics. In chapter XV, he acknowledges the fact men never live every part of their life virtuously, and that should a Prince strive to do so, he would surely ruin himself. Instead, Machiavelli believes the Prince should exhibit values that will gain him the most important benefits, even if that means not abiding by strictly virtuous characteristics. He expands on this in chapter XVI, describing that although generosity is strongly desired, it can be detrimental to the Prince’s reign. Because others cannot see truly virtuous generosity, in order for the Prince to be considered generous he must appear extremely lavish. This is obtained by raising taxes, which harms more people than it benefits and ultimately creates hatred and disrespect. In chapter XVII, Machiavelli continues to talk about the balance between cruelty and clemency, and which favors the Prince’s rein. Although ideally every Prince wants to be considered merciful, it is better to be called cruel if that is what it takes to keep the people peaceful and loyal. If he shows no mercy to the few people that disobey the law, the greater...
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