Machiavellian Character Analysis

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In his book, The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli outlines many characteristics that he thinks an ideal prince should have. A true ruler, according to Machiavelli, looks out for his own good as well as the welfare of his country, even if that requires him to resort to deceitful means. There are many examples of Machiavellian princes in literature and one such example is Denethor, Steward of Gondor. In this paper I will first clarify a few quotes from The Prince, and then describe how Denethor fits the requirement for being a true prince, according to Machiavelli. In section 18 of The Prince, Machiavelli wrote this: “And so he needs to have a spirit disposed to change as the winds of fortune and variations of things command him, and as I said above, not depart from good, when possible, but know how to enter into evil, when forced by necessity.”(Pg. 56) In this quote, Machiavelli is simply saying that rulers or princes need to be able to adapt as the times and circumstances changes. A prince must be able to evaluate his circumstances and decide how to react to his best advantage. He should do good, but understand how to do evil when necessary. Also in section 18 of The Prince, Machiavelli says this: “So, as a prince is forced to know how to act like a beast, he must learn from the fox and the lion; because the lion is defenseless against traps and a fox is defenseless against wolves” (Pg. 56). Prior to this statement, Machiavelli explains that fighting can be done by law and force, the former by man and the latter by beasts. However, Machiavelli states that, for a prince, fighting solely by law is not always adequate; therefore he must fight with force. Machiavelli chooses two beasts to illustrate this, the lion and the fox. The lion ... ... middle of paper ... now stands than the good of Gondor; and the rule of Gondor, my lord, is mine and no other man’s”(The Return of The King, pg. 32). He refuses to think, as Gandalf does, of the good of all Middle-earth whether or not Gondor remains after the battle; he must preserve his rule above all else. A Machiavellian prince is a man who looks out, first and foremost, for his own rule and authority. If he can accomplished that through honorable means, he should, but it is not wrong to resort to cruelty and deception when necessary. A very accurate example of a Machiavellian prince is Denethor, Steward of Gondor. He sits in a position of authority that he maintains for a long time, his primary concerns are preserving his own authority and the realm of Gondor, and he has the cunning to accomplish his goal. In all, Denethor is an excellent example of a true Machiavellian prince.
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