A Question of Power: Machiavelli and Shakespeare
Examines themes of law, cruelty and mercy in Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince" and William Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure".
# 41708 | 2,150 words | 7 sources | 2002 |
Published on Oct 27, 2003 in Political Science (Machiavelli, Niccolo) , English (Analysis) , Literature (Comparative Literature) , Shakespeare (Measure for Measure)
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This paper will compare and contrast Machiavelli's "The Prince" and Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure" in terms of their representation of the law, cruelty and mercy. As will be seen, Machiavelli's diabolical reputation notwithstanding, these works illustrate how both men thought along very similar lines. It will be argued that the point at which these elements - law, cruelty and mercy - converge in both men's works is power. Political power is the overriding theme of "The Prince" and the most prominent subtext of Shakespeare's "problem play". Through a discussion first of "The Prince" and then of "Measure for Measure", it will be shown how law, cruelty and mercy are - through the analogous figures of Duke Cesare Borgia and Duke Vincentio - represented as tools of political power and governance in both men's works.
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