Utopia by Thomas More and The Prince by Machiavelli Essay

Utopia by Thomas More and The Prince by Machiavelli Essay

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Utopia by Thomas More and The Prince by Machiavelli

Thomas More’s Utopia and Machiavelli’s The Prince both concern themselves with the

fundamental issues of how a society works and maintains itself. The goals behind the two works,

however, differ considerably. The goal of Utopia is to illustrate the maintenance of an “ideal”

society and the goal of The Prince is to instruct a prince, or ruler, on how to maintain his state.

On the surface these two goals may seem similar but the difference lies in the way the authors

handle the subject of power. As a manual, or handbook if you will, Prince treats power as a

necessity, a goal, to be worked towards and maintained, almost at all costs. Utopia, a fantasy,

treats power as something all individuals have; rather, they are empowered. By comparing the

way both works use and treat point of view and form, governmental systems and ideals the

differences in perspective on power becomes clearer.

Ideas are brought forth differently in both works through narrative point of view and

style. These two different ways reflect the views of power the authors hold. The Prince is told

in a matter of fact tone, its purpose being to inform a prince on how to run his kingdom. Inherent

in this purpose is a key to Mach’s view of power. Because it was written for the use of one man

to dominate over and control his kingdom/state, it was obviously not meant for lesser mortals. It

in itself is a tool of power which could be used for only the good of the prince who uses it.

Whether or not the people are empowered does not matter, it is irrelevant. It only matters that the

prince uses it to maintain his own power. In contrast, Utopia is a fanta...

... middle of paper ...

... word ‘virtu’ over and over again, it is made clear that his virtue is not

that of More’s.

Power is implied in the very essence of Machiavelli’s writing. It is tied in with the greed,

selfishness, and his “do anything to maintain the state” attitude. Even though Machiavelli

passionately invokes the idea of his Italy brought back to life in the Exhortation, his motives are

still selfish in nature; to look at an even broader term, his motives are nationalistic which is the

idea of a nation being egocentric. In this respect he is also contradictory to More in that More’s

ideas are for the good of human kind, not just for one nation. Ideals like justice and truth, which

are the basis for More’s invention, make it impossible for him to do anything but claim power as

the source of corruption in society while Machiavelli praises it.

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