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The Prince: A Book Review

Essay by   •  June 28, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,725 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,697 Views

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The Prince: A Book Review

The Prince is a book written by Niccolo Machiavelli after his fall from Greece with the de' Medici family. Niccolo Machiavelli was a very experienced statesman and diplomat in the 15th century after the fall of the Florentin Republic. After the fall of the republic in the early 1500's, the de' Medici family came to power again. This book was written by Machiavelli to give his political wisdom to the new ruling family, the de' Medici. And also, he wanted to work his way back to a good relationship with the family because of his intentions of being a politician again.

We can say that The Prince was one of the first humanist works of the Renaissance. In that it is a work of art, a masterpiece of literature. Yet this work has been fervently debated over the centuries and remains one of the most controversial pieces of writing today. Despite the fact that many critics consider The Prince a lampoon, the fact that Machiavelli attempts to reveal the problems with the ruling class, majority sees Machiavelli's work as a serious effort to lay the groundwork to again unite Italy under the de' Medici family of Florence.

The Prince is not particularly theoretical or abstract; its prose is simple and its logic straightforward. These traits underscore Machiavelli's desire to provide practical, easily understandable advice. It is based a lot on history. It has a lot of theories that may not be exactly new, but were enumerated for the first time in such clarity. Some important parts of The Prince include the opposite of the deontological ethics of which the main proponent is Immanuel Kant, which is, the means justify the end. Machiavelli is exactly the opposite of this; it states that the ends justify the means.

The idea of Machiavelli that the model prince should use a variety of tactics to secure his power namely that the end justifies the means is the most controversial issue raised in The Prince. Since Machiavelli knew that this notion would not be universally accepted, Machiavelli, through his book, tries to justify his idea by showing that men are inherently evil. Even though religion can often serve to unify a prince and his people, it can also serve to undo him. Thus, Machiavelli proposes that religion and politics, which are two of the most influential elements of life, should be held in separate arenas, religion in God's sphere, and politics in men. Some readers support this theme as refreshingly realistic; while critics strike the assertions of Machiavelli, claiming that they conciliate moral integrity.

To attain and maintain the principality is Machiavelli's goal, in that he does not desire to preserve moral good or spiritual integrity. Since Machiavelli continues to struggle to pave a road for order in this world, in the here and now; to secure the blessings of God seems not to be his main priority. Of which is of course, in sharp contrast to the moral virtue that is advocated by most Greek, Roman, and Hebrew politicians and writers.

The term Machiavellian comes from this book because the way that Machiavelli describes how politics works, the nature of man is something tricky, something that is inherently evil, and something that's Hobbes, someone that is opportunistic. Its politics and power play at its best and worst. But I think it is unfair to judge Machiavelli in that way even calling the term Machiavellian because for one this text should not be read objectively but subjectively.

The Prince is like a textbook except the only thing is, it's not really written like a textbook. But the aim is to be like a textbook. It states these examples; its like a how to guide for the de' Medici family on how to rule Italy successfully. There are very technical chapters that have mixed principalities. Princess who comes to power, by inheritance, by force, or even by luck, but ultimately The Prince is about power, how to get power, how to maintain power, and how to get power when it's lost.

The thing I find interesting about The Prince is that it has many themes of which are as follows: statesmanship and warcraft, goodwill and hatred, free will, virtue, and lastly human nature. Machiavelli asserts that there exist a number of traits in human nature. I would have to agree that people are generally self-interested, but at the same time their affection for others can be won and lost. Until the time that they are victims of something terrible, they can be content and happy.

Machiavelli claims that most common people are satisfied with the status quo and therefore do not desire for increased status despite the fact that ambition commonly exist among those who have achieved some power. He emphasizes the fact that goodwill is never absolute especially that loyalties are won and lost. These claims about how human nature is, are usually for justifications of the book's advice to the princes. I would say that his statements about society and human nature sometimes seem like assumptions rather than observations,

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