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The Ideas Of Machiavelli, Locke, Shakespeare, Montaigne, And Achebe.

1427 words - 6 pages

Never is it easy for a writer to organize his ideas with those of past writers and have a noticeable effect on the world of his times. This is especially the issue as a writer uses ideas spanning nearly six centuries before him. The thoughts and writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, William Shakespeare, and John Locke, as well as their premises about nature, are what Chinua Achebe very closely parallels.Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1530), an Italian writer who is seen as an amoral cynic and who is reputedly associated with corrupt governments, wrote "The Prince" in 1513 as an advisory and guide of sorts for Lorenzo the Magnificent di Medici. Machiavellianism, according to the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary is "suggesting the principles of conduct laid down by Machiavelli; specifically: marked by cunning, duplicity, or bad faith." Though that is a narrow and short-sighted description of what Machiavelli really is getting at in "The Prince." His is a voice of reason advancing the idea for the need of a strong central government, especially in Italy at the time of his writing in 1513. The situation of Italy is what really inspired Machiavelli to take the positions he did. Italy was engulfed at that point in history in large-scale blackmail, violence, political conflicts, political instability, fear, invasion, and general political "intrigue." Foreign powers repeatedly won and controlled Italy during this time (Botha Biography 22). In such an unstable and dangerous environment, no wonder Machiavelli would suggest for a ruler to be ruthless. "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared," wrote Machiavelli. He also wrote in "The Prince," "men are so stupid and concerned with their present needs, they will always let themselves be deceived." After even momentarily looking at such quotes, it is no wonder why Machiavelli is seen as being associated with despotic governments and ruthless leaders.People, however, generally tend to forget that Machiavelli sees a republic as the best form of government and a strong ruler is only necessary to keep order and lay down an infrastructure in order to establish a working republic for the good of all the people. "Men are so stupid," according to Machiavelli, that they surely need a strong government to control them. That is exactly what Achebe agrees with. "Here, then, is an adequate revolution for me to spouse - to help my society regain its belief in itself and put away the complexes of the years of the denigration and self-abasement," says Achebe (Achebe 20). Achebe wants his society, his Nigeria, to have a strong government ready to rule the people and lead them forward. In his words is also the strong feeling of escaping the ideas imposed upon them by the British colonizers. "[The white man] says that our customs are bad," writes Achebe (Things Fall Apart 176). The British missionaries came in and placed this idea in minds of the Ibos and many other African tribes....

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