Essay by melikekkUniversity, Bachelor's July 2005

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3. Reality and appearances, or if you prefer, being and acting, are important themes for both Machiavelli and Shakespeare. Why? How do their perspectives on this subject agree or differ?


One of the most fundamental questions in philosophy is the appearance vs. reality. We find ourselves asking the question of what is genuinely "real," and what is viewed merely as just an "appearance," and not real? It becomes difficult when we assume there is a difference in the two to determine which is which. Generally, what we label as "real" is regarded as external and eternal. What we refer to as just an appearance is regarded as temporary and internal. Many early as well as modern day authors use the theme of appearance vs. reality to portray a character in a certain way. One of the most appreciated one of these authors is William Shakespeare.

The theme of Appearance vs. Reality is extremely noted in Williams Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Also, the Italian political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli is the other one who examines the issues of reality and appearance.

Similarly, William Shakespeare and Machiavelli tell us about 'princes'. Shakespeare's play "Hamlet" can be summarized as a young prince's journey in life to discover the truth of his father's death. Machiavelli's "The Prince" is a kind of 'training guide' for leaders, or in other words it is a kind of description of what a leader should do in order to effectively lead his country. The common subject of these works is reality vs. appearance therefore in this paper the theme of appearance vs. reality will be explored by closely analyzing both of these texts of Machiavelli and Shakespeare. Additionally their perspectives will be compared and contrasted in order to understand that whether they have the...