Niccolo Machiavelli 's The Prince

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Maintaining any relationship can be complicated, especially a relationship between a ruler and residents and especially when the advice is that you should oppress your people just enough to be able to control them, but not enough so they want to kill you. In his work The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli explores the complex relationship between a ruler and his people, but ultimately comes to the conclusion that the people, because they are crucial to the well being of the country, are to be manipulated in order for a country to thrive. In order to manipulate effectively one must keep the people oppressed, but not to the point of inspiring hate, and only when that balance is achieved is when a ruler can successfully manipulate their people. In his writing Machiavelli keeps circling back to one idea and that is in order to be a successful ruler, one must keep the people oppressed. He makes this point clear when he speaks about how to come to power in a community if you are an outsider looking to take over, he has these words of advice, and “People should either be caressed or crushed If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge; but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do. If you injure someone, do it in such a way that you do not have to fear their vengeance,” (Machiavelli 9-10). From reading this quote it is evident that citizens are mere pawns to be disposed of when they are no longer useful. Machiavelli’s diction makes it clear that citizens should be embraced or destroyed, and the only determining factor is how cooperative they are. If the people revolt, they have to be discarded because without the ability to instill fear, a ruler cannot manipulate them, and so they become a treat a ruler cannot take. As ... ... middle of paper ... ...xemplifies just how powerful the people are, and why it is so vital to keep the people content. A ruler needs to understand that the people need him, but also that he needs the people on his side. This quote perfectly exemplifies the confusing relationship between rulers, and how vital the people are to a ruler, because if you cannot rely on or trust your own people, how will you fare against your enemies? Overall, Machiavelli discusses the role the people play in a country, and they have a very important role. They are the foundation to a successful city, country or community. Because of their importance a ruler must oppress them so they do not become a threat, but also at the same time make sure not to inspire hatred towards the ruler. In other words, “is it better to be loved than feared... I maintain it is much safer to be feared than loved,” (Machiavelli 52).
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