The Importance Of A Leader In Shakespeare By William Shakespeare

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One vital characteristic of a leader, according to Shakespeare, is a sense of duty to others. Despite the fact that Shakespeare employs tactics which are “truly Machiavellian” (Roe 2), the events of Shakespeare’s plays are evidence of his belief that caring for others is a requisite of a prosperous ruler. This philosophy is almost a complete antithesis of Machiavelli’s observation that, “it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be wanting.” (Machiavelli 81). Nevertheless, it is clear that self-centered leaders in Shakespearean plays typically do not last long. Obviously, such a sense of duty is not common among leaders in Shakespeare’s plays, which is why the vast majority of them fare so poorly. For example, Iago,…show more content…
The reason Shakespeare often conveys this belief in his plays is likely due to his relationship with Queen Elizabeth I. Shakespeare is known as a major supporter of the queen, so it is likely that he used this recurring theme to deter people from attempting to rise up and take Queen Elizabeth’s throne because “in England, as elsewhere in Europe, there remained a widespread conviction that women were unsuited to wield power over men” (Greenblatt & Logan 359). Whatever the reason, no character who attempts to seize power despite being unworthy of it prospers. For instance, Edmund, Gloucester’s bastard son from King Lear, is not the rightful heir to Gloucester’s fortune and name. However, he claims that he is just as deserving as Edgar because “my dimensions are as well compact/My mind as generous, my shape as true/As honest madam’s issue” (1.2.7-9). Therefore, he concocts a plan to take everything from his father and half-brother. Despite Edmund’s arguments against his unfair treatment, he is not the true heir, so from Shakespeare’s standpoint, he is doomed to fail from the beginning. From a modern perspective, it may be easy to sympathize with Edmund and perceive his treatment as unjust. However, it is necessary to look at Edmund from the perspective of Shakespeare’s goal: to discourage people from rebelling against the queen. The conflict between a rightful heir and a rebel can also…show more content…
Each play presents the audience with a unique story, but throughout every play, Shakespeare appears to maintain the belief that a successful leader must have ambition, the ability to see beyond emotions, an awareness of limitations upon their power, a sense of duty to others, loyal friends, and a right to power. Lacking any of these things, a leader may fail; but lacking more than one, failure is nearly certain. Shakespeare seemed to have extremely high standards for leaders, and rightfully so. He recognized that, despite the fact that many aspire to be leaders, very few actually have what it takes. It is likely that he used his plays to communicate this point with the political figures who came to watch them. After all, Shakespeare’s works can be interpreted as cautionary tales, not only for those who wish to gain power, but for those who already possess

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