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Applications of The Prince, by Machiavelli in the Characters of MacBeth by William Shakespeare

Decent Essays
The Prince, by Machiavelli, expresses principles on how a prince is expected act is directly applied through Shakespeare’s characters in his play, MacBeth. The more vital principle to any prince is how to avoid being hated at all costs. The other includes the correct use of clemency and cruelty, as well as if it is better to be loved or feared. MacBeth and Duncan illustrate the polar sides of the principles Machiavelli presents. MacBeth represents a corrupt prince through the the misuse of cruelty, killing those who present themselves as threats. Duncan shows, through his naive nature, that it is better to be feared than loved. Through Machiavelli’s applied principles in MacBeth, it’s simple to analyze how a proper prince…show more content…
Even though they associate themselves through contradictory manners, they demonstrate what a prince should avoid when ruling. After receiving the crown, Macbeth rules with characteristics that belong to a tyrant which created fear in his people. In Act 3, Scene 6, Lennox refers to MacBeth as a tyrant, “His presence at the tyrant’s feast” (Shakespeare 115). At this point, the lords have become to hate him. This foreshadows his downfall according to Machiavelli, “...one of the most efficacious remedies that a prince can have against conspiracies is not to be hated and despised by the people, for he who conspires against a prince always expects to please the by his removal” (1). He can also be compared to Antoninus, a Roman emperor who killed so many people that in return he was killed. A prince who commits “such-like deaths, which are deliberately inflicted with a resolved and desperate courage, cannot be avoided...because any one who does not fear to die can inflict them”(4). This suggested by Machiavelli that he should rule so that his state respects him with a healthy dose of fear but has surpassed that showing the lordes resentment.
MacBeth does not fit the description of a proper prince. Even though he has achieved much of his glorified status through his military skills, he continues the violence through one killing after another (Duncan, the chambermen, and Banquo). His drive to become king after hearing the witches’ prophecy is intrinsically
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