Essay on Commentary of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Essay on Commentary of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

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In chapter 17 of The Prince, On Cruelty and Mercy, and Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than to be Feared or the Contrary, Machiavelli continues his discussion of virtues that the modern reader might not consider as virtues. He considers mercy and cruelty as with generosity and ungenerosity. Machiavelli’s dark view of human nature is displayed in this chapter – a warning about those who tell you they love you in good times but desert you in bad times. He talks about how a prince should rather be feared than loved, if he cannot manage to be both loved and feared, but never hated. The text type is like a guide that he writes to instruct the reader on how to become a better prince. The purpose of this chapter is to convince the reader in a way which depicts how it is no use to be merciful, if by doing so, the prince allows disorder in the state to get out of control. The reader is the person who wants to rule a principality based on Machiavelli’s instructions.

Machiavelli clearly explains how there’s a difference between the misuse of mercy and cruelty. “Every prince must desire to be considered merciful and not cruel; nevertheless, he must take care not to misuse this mercy.” This implies that there’s a fine line between what is considered cruel and the “misuse of mercy” according to Machiavelli. He then gives an example of Cesare Borgia, who was seen as cruel but at the same time “brought order to Romagna, united it, restored it to peace and obedience” – he points out the good things that cruelty brings, even if the modern reader doesn’t parallelize his views. Some measure of cruelty is necessary to maintain order. Men will be scared to be punished if the prince is feared, therefore they will maintain their respects toward the pri...


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... “inhuman cruelty…made him always respected and terrifying in the eyes of his soldiers”, and this is also evidence that being feared brings a prince respect and maintains his dignity.

In conclusion, the idea of fear overcoming love in a prince is supported by evidence and examples that Machiavelli suggested. Furthermore, cruelty is a key to respect, and to be feared is a key to loyalty and order, even though compassion is an integral part since it may bring some benefits too. Machiavelli boldly warned us that men are not to be trusted, and that a prince should always set his own rules based on human morality and not what others contemplate. The modern reader will not always approve of Machiavelli’s point of view because of the word “cruelty” since it has the effect of violence, harm, destruction and cold-bloodedness.



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The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

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