machiavelli paper - English 142 Reading Drama Machiavelli's...

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English 142 Reading Drama Machiavelli’s The Prince: Theory or Commentary? When most people think about Niccolo Machiavelli, they think of an evil, amoral person with ruthless political policies. The reason for this is that his most famous work, The Prince , is a story of a man telling all that he knows about and rulers from the past and present. The traits he stresses that these rulers had or did not have are what Machiavelli perceived to be the trait that made them either a strong or fragile leader. Without the correct background information, The Prince is taken at face value, and Niccolo Machiavelli seen as an individual who promoted cruelty by the government and an any means necessary rationality. The truth is that Machiavelli wrote other books that seem to have slipped through the cracks of history. If everyone who read The Prince had also read his other works they might not see him as a tyrant’s right hand man, rather, they might appreciate him as an astute political analyst. Machiavelli states that princes shouldn’t hesitate to use immoral methods to achieve power, if power is necessary for the security of the state. Preaching immoral action doesn’t seem like a proper approach to politics, but the circumstances in which Machiavelli wrote demand a closer look. When Machiavelli began working on The Prince, he was in jail on a trumped up conspiracy charge. Italy was in a state of turmoil, and the leaders of Florence, the Medicis, had just retaken power by force. In order to gain favor with the new rulers, the imprisoned Machiavelli dedicated The Prince to Lorenzo Medici in a letter he sent to Lorenzo along with a copy of the book. In the letter he writes
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“I have not found among my belongings anything as dear to me…as my understanding of the deeds of great men, won by me from a long acquaintance with contemporary affairs and a continuous study of the ancient world…having summarized them in a little book, I am sending them to Your Magnificence.” Machiavelli clearly states that he has put his knowledge of past and present rulers into The Prince , and he is offering it as a service to Lorenzo. For a man like Machiavelli, his public position prior to his incarceration was all important. Writing a book that he thought would gain favor with the ruling Medici family, especially Lorenzo, was his
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This note was uploaded on 04/16/2008 for the course ENGLISH 142 taught by Professor Faith during the Fall '07 term at UMass (Amherst).

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machiavelli paper - English 142 Reading Drama Machiavelli's...

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