Critical Analysis of The Prince by Machiavelli
Uploaded by spootyhead on Apr 08, 2007
Critical Analysis of "The Prince" by Machiavelli
“The Prince” is a direct response to the disunity and decay of the Italian state system caused by foreign domination. Using “The Prince” as a manual, Machiavelli instructed Medici how to acquire and maintain the power necessary to reunite Italy.
Machiavelli “depart[ed] from the orders of others”, (61) who relied on intrinsic morality, and suggested that a prince conduct himself in accordance with the “effectual truth of the thing [rather than] the imagination of it” (61). Expressing his wishes of Medici as only a concern that Medici “arrive at the greatness that fortune and …other qualities promise.”(4) Machiavelli began to affirm the numerous ways Medici must seek to arrive at this greatness. Although he suffered a “great and continuous malignity of fortune” (4), Machiavelli claimed that it was his “knowledge of the actions of great men”(3) and his presence amongst the people that allowed him the virtue to establish new orders and modes to which a Prince should adapt. Suggesting that a Prince should look toward history for ways of securing the future, Machiavelli gives Medici numerous examples of men with an underlying message that “a prudent man should always enter upon the paths beaten by great men…”(22).
Classifying Borgia as a great man, Machiavelli illustrates the instantiated virtues a Prince should use in his pursuit for and maintenance of power. Showing how fortune denied Borgia the opportunity to unite Italy, Machiavelli still asserted that he should be “imitated by all those who have risen to empire through fortune” (32) because “he made use of every deed and did all those things that should be done by a prudent and virtuous man”(27). In his description of Italy as “without order, beaten despoiled, torn, pillaged, and having endured ruin of every sort”(102) Machiavellie exemplifies Borgia’s actions and failures in an attempt to convey the importance of effectively using fortune and virtue to recognize and cease opportunity. Ensuring success if is advice is heeded, Machiavelli states;” There cannot be great difficulty, provided that your house keeps its aim on the order of those whom I have put forth”(103). Using Borgia’s actions regarding the proper use of arms-ones own and showing Borgia’s prudence in picking the less bad as good-cruelties well used, Machiavelli systematically lays the foundation for Medici to successfully unite Italy.
Reinforcing the fact that the continual disarray of Italy is “caused by nothing...