Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

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The Bible teaches love, compassion and generosity. Niccolo Machiavelli found the Bible’s lessons idealistic and unrealistic for leaders. Machiavelli wrote his book, The Prince, to show the ruling Meddici family that the world is not a fairy tale. Prior to Machiavelli writing The Prince, the majority of books depicted people as virtuous and ethical. However, The Prince is not the only work of literature that manifests Machiavellian techniques. William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar utilizes similar methods. As shown in Julius Caesar and The Prince, a leader who follows Machiavelli’s advice will accomplish their goals; if the leader does not adhere to Machiavelli’s recommendations, then the leader will not fulfill his aspiration. A character from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Cassius, exhibits Machiavellian attributes by manipulation and a drive to accomplish his goal of assassinating Julius Caesar by any means. Cassius was able to successfully manipulate both Brutus and the fellow conspirators. Cassius was able to influence Brutus enough to make Brutus believe that killing Julius Caesar, Brutus’ best friend, was the right action. Initially, Brutus was wary of Cassius when Brutus said, “Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius?” (1.2.69) Subsequently, Brutus is persuaded as he states, “...what you have said / I will consider” (1.2.176-177). Cassius is willing to control any person who stands in his way. Cassius successfully turned Brutus against his best friend in order to achieve what Cassius believes to be best for Rome. When Brutus says, “Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires” (1.2.35) it is clear that Cassius has swayed Brutus to believe in his cause. In Julius Caesar, we do not see Cassius as the main leader of the cons... ... middle of paper ... ...nd was naive, which led to him to be killed by his best friend, Brutus, thus making Caesar an ineffective leader. In Julius Caesar, Machiavellian traits are manifested through multiple characters. Those characters who obeyed Machiavelli’s guidance were successful in achieving their goals; those who did not conform to the recommendations failed. Machiavelli teaches tactics to achieve a goal, regardless whether or not these tactics are humane. On the other hand, religious books teach compassion and kindness. In short, one perspective is, to get ahead, people must drop all humane beliefs and focus solely on their aspirations. Works Cited Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince by Machiavelli. 1 Mar. 2011. Handout. Concordia International School Shanghai, Shanghai, China. Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Philip Freeman. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. Print.
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