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The Characteristics Of George Washington As A Good King

Decent Essays
Society turns to powerful leaders for guidance in times of uncertainty. Especially after the American Revolution, the people needed a leader to mollify the concerns entailing their newfound independence. They needed a president who could guide them like a king without creating a power vacuum, who could lead with respect without becoming corrupt, and who could put the future of the country beyond his own desires; America’s future was reliant on a leader who had these qualities. Luckily, the first president, George Washington, acted as the “good king” America heavily needed. Like Hrothgar, a good king in Beowulf, George Washington reflects similar characteristics of bravery and prominence. Hrothgar, king of the Danes, is referred to as a…show more content…
Washington’s character as a good ruler cannot solely be based on the example of a single king; he must also be compared to bad kings to further emphasize his better qualities. Washington reflects opposite characteristics of Macbeth, a ruler who let ambition and the corruption of power overcome him. Macbeth became powerful by killing those in his way, and once in control, focused more on maintaining his power than he did on the kingdom. In Act 1, Scene 7, Macbeth portrays this desire to take down anyone in his path when claiming, “I have no spur / to prick the sides of my intent, but only / vaulting ambition” (Macbeth, 1.7.25-27). Macbeth’s willingness to commit murder and treason in order to become King of Scotland demonstrates that too much ambition is a characteristic of a bad king. In contrast, Washington focused on putting the benefit of the country beyond his own power. When he voluntarily chose to step down from office rather than monopolizing the power as Macbeth had done, Washington puts the benefit of the people before his own (Ellis 122). However, some may argue that Washington’s decision was a selfish act, as the people were left without a good ruler, yet Washington meant the opposite. The resignation from office instead helped the country by teaching them “about how to sustain national unity and purpose, not just without him, but without a king” (Ellis 123). Thus, while some could argue that Washington hurt the
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