Macbeth And Machiavelli Essay

821 words - 3 pages

When discussing any of Shakespeare’s pivotal works, it is nearly impossible to somehow relate them to Hamlet. Whether it is stark differences in character, plot similarities, or simply through literary devices, Shakespeare created a masterpiece through Hamlet. Nicolo Machiavelli also coined a treasure with The Prince. Through the lens of Hamlet and The Prince, one is able to dissect Shakespeare’s Macbeth with a greater understanding of Machiavellian beliefs. By placing Macbeth against Hamlet’s incredibly high standards, it becomes clear that the character of Macbeth is not a Machiavellian prince for one simple reason: he is not smart enough and lacks the foresight that Machiavelli preached.
The character of Hamlet is far removed from a Machiavellian prince. He is unconcerned with his own public image and instead focuses on deep knowledge of a person and himself. The opening line of Hamlet, “who’s there?” (Shakespeare 1.1.1), sets up the play for the theme of self-discovery that Hamlet and Shakespeare himself are obsessed with. The thesis of Hamlet quickly exposes itself in (1.1.2) as, “stand and unfold yourself,” which starkly disagrees with The Prince’s thesis of taking on the traits of both a lion and a fox (Machiavelli 69).
Machiavelli’s concern for being cunning through power does not accurately translate in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth himself have an uncontrollable thirst for power but are not “fox-like” in pursuing their influence. Although Macbeth longs to be Machiavellian in his leadership, his desire for supreme power does not allow for this. While Macbeth is still concerned with his public image, he is not removed enough in his position. The thesis of Macbeth becomes obvious in (1.3.143) when Macbeth states, “and nothing is but what is not,” in direct disagreement with the thesis of Hamlet. This conflict creates tension between the two works and confirms that Shakespeare himself is wrestling with Machiavellian ideals throughout the two works.
At the beginning of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth appears to have all the power harnessed in the play. Macbeth simply does her bidding, for fear of not being viewed as a man. Lady Macbeth controls her husband and forces him to “become a man” through terrible deeds. She manipulates tells Macbeth, telling him, “when you durst do it, then you were a man; and to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man” (Shakespeare 1.7.48-52). Through this...

Find Another Essay On Macbeth and Machiavelli

A Man is Born Free and Everywhere He is in Chains

657 words - 3 pages According to “The Prince”, a book written by an Italian politician named Machiavelli; that in order to be a good leader, the prince must understand the notion of appearance vs. reality. That is to say, it is good for a prince to be manipulative but he needs to appear good to the public. In Elizabethan politics, this notion is often rejected and the term “Machiavellian villain” is given to people who share similar traits with the “Prince”. In...

William Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

4188 words - 17 pages William Shakespeare's Macbeth William Shakespeare who had already written numerous plays on the subject of kingship wrote Macbeth in 1605/6. This play is a tragedy, much like that of Hamlet, which depicts the murder of a King and all the consequences that follow such a crime. This play was performed before King James VI of Scotland, I of Great Britain, who came to the English throne in 1603. There are all sorts of issues...

The Effects Of Macbeth's Ambitions.

1331 words - 5 pages "He who blinded by ambition, raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must thereafter fall with the greatest loss." - Niccolo Machiavelli. This preceding quote effectively describes Macbeth's fight to gain and maintain his role as King of Scotland. Throughout the play, Macbeth did anything necessary to become King. When he...

"This mad young man" How mad is the Prince of Denmark?

2481 words - 10 pages The character of Hamlet is often referred to as the “Renaissance man” (Lacey Baldwin Smith, 1967) and the Romantic French author, Alexandre Dumas Père, claimed that “after God, Shakespeare has created the most”. Over the past 400 years the play itself has been subjected to feverish analysis by scholars, psychologists, and critics – Hamlet is timeless. Indeed, as the First Folio published in 1623 states, William...

Comparing the Murder of the King in Hamlet, Richard II, Henry VIII, Macbeth and Julius Caesar

2780 words - 11 pages Murder of the King in Hamlet, Richard II, Henry VIII, Macbeth and Julius Caesar       Kings are everywhere in Shakespeare, from Hamlet to Richard the Second, from Henry the Eighth to Macbeth; many of the plays contain a central element of a king or autocratic head of state such as Julius Caesar, for example. They focus more specifically on the nature of that person's power, especially on the question of removing it; what it means on both a...

Renaissance Drama

2933 words - 12 pages Renaissance Drama The Elizabethan and Jacobean Eras Historians frequently draw a distinction between the reigns of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs. Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558 to...

Similar Essays

Machiavelli In Macbeth Essay

2023 words - 8 pages THESIS STATEMENT Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, applies the Machiavellian principles of how princes should properly conduct themselves which is directly applied through Duncan, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and Malcolm. PURPOSE STATMENT Through analytic research, this paper will examine, as well as, compare and contrast the Machiavellian principles to the characters in Macbeth. The focus will include the influence of his principles, how they affect...

Analysis Of Macbeth And His Struggle For Power

1995 words - 8 pages In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, there is a constant struggle for power by Macbeth that leads to many problems, not only for himself, but for the very nature of Scotland as well. While examining the play Macbeth, we will prove how Macbeth’s ambition for power will affect the natural order of the world and show how he is an unjust ruler. In the beginning of the play Macbeth, Macbeth was viewed as a righteous and brave man; and had helped...

Absolute Power: Leadership Of A Single Person Within Government

1522 words - 6 pages Absolute Power Throughout literature many works have stemmed from the subject of power. In many great stories some powerful warriors have fought for power only to fall in the end because of its inescapable corruption. There have also been those who stumbled into power blindly only to be dissatis fied and shunned because of a prophecy and fate. That predicament is what transpired in the unfortunate events of Oedipus Rex. Unjustly maintained...

Macbeth Appearance Vs. Reality Essay

1212 words - 5 pages Macbeth Appearance versus reality Niccolo Machiavelli is famous for saying: “For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are more often influenced by the things that ’seem’ than by those that ‘are.’Appearance vs. reality in Shakespeare is a jaded theme in Macbeth. As King Duncan himself says “there’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face,” the play is full of characters...