Machiavelli's The Prince Analysis

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An analysis of Machiavelli’s The Prince showcases the importance of war, and Shakespeare’s Henry V personifies Machiavelli’s views. Machiavelli encourages rulers to “aim at conquering and maintaining the state,” and war is the prince’s tool to use (The Prince, 66). War is justifiable but only when necessity compels the prince. Shakespeare’s King Henry epitomizes Machiavelli’s ideas. Henry manipulates the law and promotes his self-interests, asserting that he conquers France in defense of England. War becomes the backdrop for Henry’s conquest, and he uses Machiavelli’s teachings to ascend quickly to power. A prince must use force to advance his principality. Using warfare develops a nation because “where there are good arms there must be…show more content…
Henry understands when to seize favorable opportunities and justify his means. He twists the laws to assert his rights to the French crown and make “with right and conscience [his]/ claim” (Henry V, 1.2.96-97). The Bishop legitimizes Henry’s claim because “there is no bar/ to make against [his] claim to France” (Henry V, 1.2.35-36). Invading France is “just and his quarrel honorable” (Henry V, 4.1.130). He manipulates the people to believe that he “justly and religiously” pursues France, but in reality, he follows his self-interests (Henry V, 1.2.10). Henry convinces the people that he follows God’s will, which depicts him as an ideal ruler. He gains authority from “God,/ for it is none but thine” influence that provides power (Henry V, 4.8.112-113). Using God to justify his pursuits complements Machiavelli’s view that a prince should “seem to have” the qualities that the people deem important (The Prince, 65). Doing so wins the people’s trust and legitimizes a ruler’s intent. Henry asserts that his soldiers’ “duty is the King’s,” convincing them to persevere and believe that the war is just (Henry V,…show more content…
Henry represents the beast because he ruthlessly invades France and “mow[s] like grass/ [their] fresh fair virgins and [their] flow’ring infants” (Henry V, 3.3.13-14). He threatens these atrocities to frighten the people and secure power. Imitating “the action of the tiger” initiates war (Henry V, 3.1.6). Machiavelli encourages violence to instill fear and gain faith because “fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails” (The Prince, 61). A prince’s “end justifies the means,” arguing that the path to power does not matter but only the results (The Prince, 66). Henry is aware that the war incites “much fall of blood,” asserting Machiavelli’s belief that success incurs a cost (Henry V,
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