The ideas of Machiavelli, Locke, Shakespeare, Montaigne, and Achebe.

Essay by sc140a6High School, 12th gradeA-, May 2003

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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...