Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. How does Machiavelli view human nature?
2. Is Machiavelli’s book “evil”? What role does virtue play in Macchiavelli’s state?
3. Compare and contrast the different ways in which a prince can rise to power.
Suggested Essay Topics
1. What are Machiavelli’s views regarding free will? Can historical events be shaped by individuals, or are they the consequence of fortune and circumstance?
2. In Discourses on Livy (1517), Machiavelli argues that the purpose of politics is to promote a “common good.” How does this statement relate to the ideas Machiavelli presents in The Prince?
3. Do you agree with Machiavelli’s thesis that stability and power are the only qualities that matter in the evaluation of governments? If not, what else matters?
4. Discuss class conflict in The Prince and its relationship to successful government.
5. Discuss The Prince’s historical context. In what ways do the arguments and examples of the The Prince reflect that context?
6. Discuss the form, tone, and rhetoric of The Prince. Does Machiavelli’s choice in this area lead to a persuasive argument? Why or why not?
7. How much of The Prince is relevant to contemporary society in an age when monarchies no longer are the primary form of government?
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