Comparing More's Utopia, Machiavelli's The Discourses, And Hobbes' The Leviathan

2627 words - 11 pages

Relationship Between the Sovereign and the Subjects in More's Utopia, Machiavelli's The Discourses, and Hobbes' The Leviathan      

Thomas More, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Thomas Hobbes offer models for the relationship between the sovereign and the people in their works Utopia, The Discourses, and The Leviathan. Each argues that ensuring the common good of the people should be the primary goal of the sovereign. However, they differ in the specifics of their descriptions of this relationship and in their explanations of the sovereign’s motivation for valuing the prosperity of the people. An examination of the specified passages in each of these works will clarify the comparison of their models for this relationship.

More’s discussion of the sovereign occurs in the context of the discussion of a monarch as the trustee of the welfare of the people. The king is a common citizen who has been invested with the authority or "majesty" of sovereignty. He is then distinguished from the rest of the population by the responsibilities he has to them and the powers that are inherent in these responsibilities. He is bound to fulfill these responsibilities and not to abuse the privileges by the threat of rebellion from the poor and, therefore, discontented people that would result from incompetent or misused sovereignty.

He is also constrained by his own natural desire for prestige, and his prestige is dependent on his subjects’ wealth and well being. To desire this kind of prestige, he must be a virtuous man. Without this virtue, his vices of pride and laziness are likely to reduce him to taking his subjects’ property in order to serve his greed and to attempt their pacification by reducing them to abject poverty. If his own pride and laziness render him so inept at sovereignty that he must maintain control over his people by reducing them poverty instead of serving them in a care-taking capacity, then he destroys the "majesty" of the office he holds and, therefore, no longer rightly holds those responsibilities and privileges with which he was entrusted by his people. One who attempts to rule in this fashion, not only destroys his own right to rule, he also gives his people sufficient incentive (poverty and discontent) to displace him.

More describes the monarch’s responsibilities in general terms from which more specific duties can be inferred. He says that the king has been charged with making the lives of his people more comfortable, protecting them from injustice, insuring that they are fed, and preventing crime through sound administration. Since these duties are presented in contrast with the king who keeps his people poor by confiscating their property, it is reasonable to infer that More expects his king to protect their private property. To protect his people from injustice, the king must provide for a system of laws and adjudication to resolve conflicts. In addition, in providing the example of the good king of Happiland who " . ....

Find Another Essay On Comparing More's Utopia, Machiavelli's The Discourses, and Hobbes' The Leviathan

Utopia And Leviathan Essay

2206 words - 9 pages ambiguity found in More's view.The solution for Hobbes is that mankind need to live in awe or fear of someone greater than himself. Without something to restrain man he would go on murdering and be forever in search of more power. In order to protect and defend life, man must come together under an almighty ruler who mankind gives sovereignty to.The similarity between Utopia and Leviathan are found in this giving up of individual power for the

Utopia and more's age Essay

1839 words - 7 pages fooled by their husbands,also the right to work and make money.In conclusion,More's Utopia has a perfect structure of ruling without a place for kings.There is tolerance,the right of education and respect for knowledge in the country.The most important of all is that every one contributes equally to the national budget.Whereas,in More's time,there is religious tension and political instability,there is a large amount of poor people deprived of

Comparing Orwell's "1984" and Machiavelli's "The Prince"

1932 words - 8 pages When examining the totalitarian government of 1984 by George Orwell, a direct connection can be drawn to the motives and ideals associated with Niccoló Machiavelli’s The Prince. Machiavelli’s support of the political necessity as a means to remain in power resonate with the government whose aim is to “extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought” as a way to ensure complete political orthodoxy within the country (193

Thomas More's Utopia and its impact on English society during the Renaissance.

1447 words - 6 pages The "Middle" Ages were followed by the Renaissance, a time in which art and literature flourished. Thomas More, the first English humanist of the Renaissance, was born in London during this period. More's style is simple because of its colloquial language but a deeper look into his irony hints at deep dissatisfaction with the current thought and desire for change. "Utopia" (which in Greek means "nowhere") is the name of More's fictional island

The Truth of War Exposed in Hobbes’ Leviathan

807 words - 3 pages The Truth of War Exposed in Hobbes’ Leviathan Conflict, or the prospect thereof, concerns individuals, instilling a great deal of fear in their hearts and minds. Hobbes’ Leviathan differs from our present conception of war, as a typically united act by a patriotic nation. The concept of war constructed by Hobbes presents the idea of limitless enemies, wherein every man has the potential to damage the life or well-being of any other man

the teachings of Thomas Hobbes in his book Leviathan

822 words - 3 pages Thomas Hobbes Paper - What is the difference betweenobligations in foro interno and in foro externo, and when do wehave such obligations?According to Thomas Hobbes, there are certain laws of nature whichexist in the absence of an organized government. These laws are extremelycut throat, and place people in extremely dangerous situations where theirlives are in danger. Government is the answer to this dangerous situation,but it is here that the

Comparing Machiavelli's The Prince and Plato's The Republic

1796 words - 7 pages Comparing Machiavelli's The Prince and Plato's The Republic       Many people in history have written about ideal rulers and states and how to maintain them.  Perhaps the most talked about and compared are Machiavelli's, The Prince and Plato's, The Republic.  Machiavelli lived at a time when Italy was suffering from its political destruction.  The Prince, was written to describe the ways by which a leader may gain and maintain power. In

Utopia. The Ideal Society. My definition of an Utopian society and what it would consist of. (written after reading Thomas More's "Utopia")

674 words - 3 pages someone that is held in high regard. Equality is when all living things are equal, and no one or thing is any better than another. These are the grounds on which the utopian society can prevail.The foundation of the ideal society rests on the human mind. Knowledge brings better understanding. Education and knowledge are very important to this society. Religion dies because people do not feel confused, inferior, or empty. Citizens of the utopia

Thomas More's Utopia and His Context

3527 words - 14 pages More describes the society and culture of an imaginary island on which all social ills have been cured. As in Plato's Republic, a work from which More drew while writing Utopia, More's work In Book 1 presents his ideas through a dialogue between two characters, Raphael Hythloday and More himself. Hythloday is a fictional character who describes his recent voyage in Book 2 to the paradise of Utopia. Throughout the work, Hythloday describes the

Justice in Plato's Republic and Hobbes' Leviathan

2841 words - 11 pages One of the main concepts in both Plato's Republic and Hobbes' Leviathan is justice. For Plato, the goal of his Republic is to discover what justice is and to demonstrate that it is better than injustice. Plato does this by explaining justice in two different ways: through a city or polis and through an individual human beings soul. He uses justice in a city to reveal justice in an individual. For Hobbes, the term justice is used to explain

Comparing Virtue and Vice in Utopia, The Bible, and Othello

881 words - 4 pages Comparing Virtue and Vice in Utopia, The Bible, and Othello The definition of virtue varies between cultures and societies. Utopian ideas of virtue do not necessarily agree with Biblical or Elizabethan England views, however, More’s "Utopia," the Biblical accounts in Genesis of Joseph and Jacob, and Shakespeare’s "Othello" all present the concept of virtue prevailing over vice. Although at times vice may appear to triumph over virtue

Similar Essays

Visions Of A Perfect Society Illustrated In Machiavelli's The Prince And Thomas More's Utopia

518 words - 2 pages When people think about the ‘perfect’ society, all will have a different idea on the topic. For example, Thomas More wrote in ‘Utopia’ of a society where all of the cities were exactly the same. Whereas Niccolo Machiavelli wrote about how a society should be ruled in ‘The Prince.’ Both works paint a portrait of leadership and laws, as well as life and society. In ‘The Prince’, Machiavelli isn’t describing the aspects of a perfect society, he is

Inequality In Machiavelli's The Prince, More's Utopia, And Las Casas' Account Of The Destruction Of The Indies

1543 words - 6 pages three books written in the sixteenth century including Machiavelli's The Prince, Thomas More's Utopia, and Bartolome de Las Casas' A short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. For more than five hundred years people have been influenced and intrigued by Machiavelli's ideas of what a political framework for a sustainable principality should be. His book has left audiences shocked and appalled at the brutality required of a prince, but the

Comparing Plato's Republic, More's Utopia, And Gurney's Dinotopia

1513 words - 6 pages their judicial system. Lastly, such needs as food and clothing must be satisfied. In Sir Thomas More's Utopia, the duty of food production was rotated among the populace, with each person spending at least two years working on a farm. Clothing was produced only on the basis of need, and a typical citizen received only one shirt every two years. Luxury items were nonexistent, as they served no useful purpose. In contrast, the citizens of

Comparing Sir Thomas More's Utopia And Virgil's Aeneid

2376 words - 10 pages Identity and Power in Sir Thomas More's Utopia and Virgil's Aeneid In Utopia and the Aeneid, Sir Thomas More and Virgil describe the construction and perpetuation of a national identity. In the former, the Utopian state operates on the “inside” by enforcing, through methods of surveillance, a normalized identity on its citizens under the guise of bettering their lives. In the latter, the depleted national identity of the future Romans in