Niccolo Machiavelli Analysis

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What is the general idea that most people have of a great king? The majority say that a strong leader needs to have virtuous qualities such as being trustworthy, courageous, loyal, honest, dedicated to the task at hand, as well as being inspirational and hard working. The list goes on and on. Most of all, a great leader must have a superior moral-compass to guide through difficult situations, correct? In the eyes of the Italian political theorist, Niccolo Machiavelli, these preconceived notions could not be more wrong. Machiavelli wrote many philosophical and analytical treatise’s about the current state of government in Italy during the early 1500’s. Beginning a career as a diplomat, Machiavelli was able to meet many rulers in Italy such as Louis XII, Ferdinand II, and Pope Julius II. The leader who had the most effect on him though was the son of Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia. Borgia was particularly cruel and outgoing, gaining a lot of power in central Italy through his cunning practices. Machiavelli’s most famous book The Prince is thought to be based on him. It was dedicated to Lorenzo de’ Medici, then governor of Florence, as a guide to maintain power. Instead of having positive qualities, the book states that a leader must forget about morality, and take a more realist approach to politics. King Claudius, in the famous play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, uses many of the unjust practices highlighted in The Prince to stay in power over Denmark. First of all, Claudius uses force to take over the throne of Denmark and stay there. Second of all, he lies and deceives people into following along in his evil schemes. Finally, he maintains a self-centered attitude, only focusing on himself and not his people.
The first Machiavellian ...

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...arpened sword while the prince uses a harmless dull one. Finally, Claudius is extremely selfish. Instead of caring about the well-being of his kingdom and people, he only cares about how he will continue to maintain his position. After Hamlet sets up a play with similar circumstances to the murder, the king can hardly contain his guilt. He tries to repent to God, but ultimately comes to the conclusion that he is still reaping the benefits of the past king’s murder, and cannot give them up. In his final plan to kill Hamlet, Claudius does not think about the well-being of his wife Gertrude. When he offers a glass of poison wine to Hamlet, Gertrude takes it instead. Since the king wants Hamlet gone more than his wife’s love, he doesn’t say too much about it. Hundreds of years after Hamlet was written, the clear Machiavellian traits of Claudius stand out to this day.

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