It is essential to note that the discussion of the literary and political legacy of the great Florentine, Niccolo Machiavelli, is still being actual for the modern sphere of historical and political studies. Evidently, this discussion has been relevant for almost five centuries. The reflections of Machiavelli’s heritage are most fully expressed in two treatises, which are The Prince and The Discourses. It is rational for the scholars not to oppose these two works, in which the author explores the basic forms and methods of the political organization of society. The fact is that the “Prince” and “Discourses” complement each other well due to the fact that they discuss the different aspects of the political behavior of a leader and governor. Although, it is not by chance that it is the “Prince” that attracts the attention of the worshippers of Machiavelli’s creative work. Consequently, it is rational for the novice researcher to make a deep analysis of the “Prince” in order to better understand Machiavelli’s worldview and fundamental thoughts. It is necessary to note that the “Prince” discusses the fundamental qualities of a political leader. The book was written in order to give an opportunity for the people in Italy to understand the best possible methods of making political and social decisions in conditions of uncertainty. The prince should be regarded as a specific artistic image. It is better for the reader of the book to think of the existing examples of the political leaders and compare the prince with them. Thus, the prince is a special type of literary character, which is the “actor” of not an artistic novel, but a socio-political treatise. The views that Machiavelli attributes to his hero are by no means always identical to those of Machiavelli himself. And even more so, he was not guided in life by the principles that underlie the world outlook and the mode of action of the sovereign. Therefore, the critical attitude of some readers towards some radical aspects of the prince’s behavior could not be related to the author of the book.
It is obvious that the image of the prince is central for the examined book. Creating the image of his sovereign, Machiavelli sets two tasks. The first task is to find a possibility of liberating Italy from the domination of the foreign influence. It is evident that such nations as France regularly tried to establish its protectorate in Italy. Machiavelli wanted the prince to be able to oppose the external invasion. In such a situation, the second aspect of the prince’s activities is the unification of people. Obviously, it is easier to oppose an external invasion without the internal contradictions. Relying on the needs of the society of that time, Machiavelli comes to the conclusion that the most important task is the formation of a single unitary Italian state. Developing his thoughts, he comes to the following inference: only a true leader is capable of leading people and building a unified state. It is not a concrete historical personality, but something abstract, symbolic, possessing such qualities that, in the aggregate, are inaccessible to any living ruler. However, the political situation in Italy during the life of Machiavelli was very complicated. It was impossible to believe that the country could be united in the nearest future. Consequently, Machiavelli stated that the immediate task of the prince was the liberation of Italy. Thus, the unification of the country was rather a dream, for which Machiavelli was afraid to embody. On the other hand, the thinker had hope that this social change could become possible. Therefore, the author also takes some real life experience from the everyday political life of Italy. He tries to build his theoretical constructs on the foundation of this experience. Therefore, the image of the ideal sovereign created by him, described in the treatise, can serve as a political leader.
Machiavelli accurately makes an analysis of all the qualities, which are especially important for the prince. Considering the generosity and frugality, Machiavelli notes that those princes who wanted to be generous, spend all their wealth. The treasury could become empty. Therefore, the prince is forced to raise the existing and establish new taxes, which leads to the hatred of the common people. Therefore, Machiavelli advises the emperor not to be afraid of being branded as stingy. But then the author examines some possible situations where such advice is not helpful but harmful. And throughout the entire work, he gives concrete historical facts that illustrate its approval. As a result, the author formulates such quality as moderate generosity. Minimum donation from the sovereign people, who will make his subjects relate to the leader with great respect, but do not see him as thoughtless spendthrift of government resources. Machiavelli also discusses the impact such qualities as cruelty and mercy on people. He highlighted that the prince usually wants to be known as not cruel and merciful. Another thing is that often, to stay in power, the governor has to be cruel. If the state threatens chaos, disorder, the sovereign task does not let that happen, even if he has to arrange some kind of violence. After all, in relation to the rest of the citizens, these executions would lead to riots and chaos. Also, Machiavelli emphasizes that it is unacceptable for the emperor to be romantic. He must be realistic. This also applies to the question of whether it is necessary to keep the word given earlier. The answer is this: you only need to keep the word in a situation where it can not harm the state. In other words, Machiavelli includes in the list of useful qualities of an ideal political leader the ability to act on circumstances. Machiavelli considers it important to be able not to fall under the influence of flatterers. However, to protect from them and not to fall under their influence, without loss of respect, is not so simple as it seems. Machiavelli refutes the widespread opinion that the wisdom of the sovereign largely depends on good advice. This is not true. On the contrary, according to the author, the sovereign, who himself does not have wisdom, is useless to give good advice. Machiavelli lays the ruler’s entire responsibility for the state of the state, for the preservation and strengthening of power. The author advises the ruler to rely less on fate, and pay more attention to the board, the wise and skillful. Therefore, the prince must rely on his ability to govern the state and rely on the created army, and not on fate.
It should be noted that Machiavelli creates the ideal image of the sovereign in his book with all the descriptions of the positive and negative types of behavior. At the same time, the appearance of the prince completely concrete and endowed with completely certain features of character, a way of thinking, world perception. Machiavelli’s ideas depend on the cultural level of his epoch. It means that the image of the prince reflects the epoch as well as every literary hero to some extent is a reflection of his or her time. On the other hand, the sovereign is the answer to the challenge of time, which is inevitable. Consequently, it is the answer that Machiavelli offers for the reader. His sovereign is called upon to overcome the trends of the time. Machiavelli wants to propose some common advice for the political activists of all periods. Simultaneously, the author wants to achieve his dream and to give a chance for the prince to liberate and unite Italy crushing the dominant forces of fragmentation and enslavement at the time. Accordingly, the qualities that Machiavelli makes his hero be very powerful and smart. Some people consider the prince as the “superhuman” because it is almost impossible for a common person to possess all the qualities of the prince. As an example of a leader who succeeded under some circumstances, but failed in others, it is possible to represent Winston Churchill whose leadership abilities as a Prime Minister proved to be in demand during World War II. Winston Churchill also achieved many other purposes. He wrote books and made great speeches. Unfortunately, he did not find recognition in either pre- or in the postwar period. Churchill’s powerful style was one of the reasons that in peacetime the British public preferred a less public and autocratic leader. However, the political course of Churchill was contrary to the opinion of the majority both before and after the war. At the same time, he had enough will to struggle with many external enemies of the Great Britain. His example brilliantly suits many qualities of the prince discussed by Machiavelli in his outstanding book.
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