November 9, 2011
When utilizing the rhetorical strategy of comparing and contrasting in relationship to literature, a number of pieces of can qualify. In particular, the idea of leadership is arguably one of the most written about topics with regard to comparing and contrasting. Throughout history, it can be argued that the majority of successful societies have been based upon effective divisions of leadership. Accordingly, in their pieces of literature, The Tao-te Ching and The Qualities of the Prince, Lao-tzu and Machiavelli have sought to convey a more complete and concrete understanding of their respective definitions and duties of a ruler (leadership). The theme of political leaders and their intricate relationship with society indeed validate itself within both texts. However, both Lao-tzu and Machiavelli approach this issue from almost entirely opposite positions, though sharing minute similarities. Lao-tzu appears to focus the majority of his attention on letting problems or situations take their course, and consequently good would prevail. On the contrary, Machiavelli advocates the necessity for a successful leader, or prince, to take control of his deeds, and the skills or qualities necessary to maintain power. Since both writers propose a question as to what is in essence the same dilemma, effective leadership, it becomes almost natural literary etiquette to contrast the two in an effort to better understand what qualities a prosperous leader must possess. Despite each author’s contrasting approaches to rhetoric, they agree that a ruler should avoid being hated and despised, but disagree in areas such as government involvement in citizens’ everyday lives.
In comparing Lao-tzu and Machiavelli in terms of governing standards, many may doubt that they are comparable in any aspect. Though their comparability is limited, one in particular is that one of the most important qualities a...
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