Prince Hamlet Versus Machiavelli's Prince

1006 Words5 Pages
Prince Hamlet Versus Machiavelli's Prince The Prince is a celebrated and highly controversial piece of work by the Italian aristocrat Niccolo Machiavelli. His work is a summation of all the qualities a prince must have in order to remain in his position. Machiavelli supports the idea that a prince use his power for the ultimate benefit of all, but he also does not condemn the use of any unpleasant means in order for the prince to maintain his power. His ideas both compare and contrast to the methods used by Prince Hamlet of Denmark in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Hamlet, as we know, struggles mightily to maintain his position as the prince, and one must wonder if this is due to some of the highly essential qualities outlined by Machiavelli which Hamlet lacks. Machiavelli states that a prince must always be prepared for war, even during times of peace. A prince's profession is that of war and all the training, discipline, and studying that accompany it. Hamlet certainly did not follow these guidelines. When the play opened, Denmark was faced with the threat of war from Norway, yet war with another country seemed to be the furthest thing from Hamlet's mind. Hamlet was too preoccupied with the matters of his father's death and his mother's remarriage to even consider the safety of the nation. Machiavelli also feels that a prince must not hesitate to act wrongly in order to protect himself and his throne. He states, "..it is necessary for a prince who wishes to maintain his position to learn how not to be good ...." ( A World of Ideas 38). According to his philosophy, the pursuit of all things regarded as virtuous and praiseworthy will only lead to the prince's ruin. The battle between goo... ... middle of paper ... ...r in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them" (Hamlet 127). Hamlet found he could suffer no more, and he fought to the bitter end to drown away the heavy burdens of his soul. Sources Cited and Consulted: Gray, Terry A. "Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet." http://www.palomar.edu/Library/shake.htm. Jones, W. T. Masters of Political Thought. Ed. Edward, McChesner, and Sait. Vol. 2. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947. Lee A. Jacobus. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. 5th edition. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1998. Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Trans. Hill Thompson. Norwalk: The Easton Press, 1980. Shakespeare, William. The Three-Text Hamlet. Eds. Paul Bertram and Bernice Kliman. New York: AMS Press, 1991.
Open Document