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Leadership in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Cavendish’s Blazing World, and Othello and Hamlet

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Leadership in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Cavendish’s Blazing World, and Shakespeare’s Othello and Hamlet


Critical thinkers are the strongest people in the world—not only are they able to form their own opinions, but these individuals are also versatile enough to listen to their counsel for the best advice. They have learned when to be flexible and when to be stubborn—and they’ve realized who’s a snake in the grass and who deserves paramount respect. To live happily ever after, or even just to survive, a person must learn from the best. Leaders are no exception to the rule. Whether they come from a royal family, are spontaneously appointed, or are the only ones around and therefore lead by default, leaders must detect and discern the truth, using all of the empirical experience and intuitive senses that mankind has had bestowed upon them. In addition to all their duties, a good leader must be a critical thinker. Simply put, a leader’s ability to listen to another opinion speaks volumes about their character. In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World, and William Shakespeare’s tragedies of Othello and Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, there are a tremendous variety of leaders and counselors who all have different circumstances, yet all may be analyzed through twos common themes: The measures of innocence verses experience and passion verses reason in leadership positions. Some of the leaders that will be in focus don’t always play the part. Some aren’t always so innocent. But if we look at how characters with leadership roles treat their counsel—whether those advisors are family, friends, lovers or superiors—we will not simply learn more about the literature we study, but we may apply what we learn to o...


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Knight, G. Wilson. “The Embassy of Death: An Essay on Hamlet.” The Wheel of Fire: Interpretations of Shakespearean Tragedy. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1930.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Portable Machiavelli. Eds. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa. New York: The Viking Press, 1979.

McAlpine, Alistair. The New Machiavelli: The Art of Politics in Business. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1998.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. 1674. Ed. Scott Elledge. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. The Tragedies of Shakespeare. Players Illustrated Edition. Chicago: Spencer Press, Inc., 1955.

Wood, Tanya Caroline. “The Fall and Rise of Absolutism: Margaret Cavendish’s Manipulation of Masque Conventions in ‘The Claspe: Fantasmes Masque’ and The Blazing World.” In-between: Essays and Studies in Literary Criticism. 2000.


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