Machiavelli. "The Prince". Reading Questions
- How is M's discussion of the prince supposed to be different from what others had written?
- In what sense can vice be beneficial for a prince?
- Read the last sentence of this chapter and try to think of a specific example that supports the statement.
- How can generosity sometimes bring harm to a prince?
- How is it better for a prince to be a miser?
- Can you relate any of this to our policies on taxation and spending on social services?
- M says that being a miser is one of the vices that enables a prince to rule. How so? Do you think this can just as well apply to a contemporary politician?
- What examples does M provide of rulers who were generous and yet ruled successfully? Why were they successful?
- When is the rule by cruelty necessary, according to M?
- How can being cruel to a few lead to being merciful in reality to many?
- M says that being cruel for a new prince is almost necessary. Why?
- M asks, is it better to be loved than feared, or vice versa? What's his answer and why?
- In the second paragraph of this chapter M discusses the nature of man. What generalizations does he come up with? Is it true, then that the character of the people determine the character of the prince?
- What is the difference between being feared and being hated? Why doe M not recommend for a prince to be hated?
- Why is it better for a prince leading an army to be considered cruel?
- Explain and comment on the last paragraph in this chapter. What can a prince control and not control?
- M says that it is more important that a prince knows how to manipulate people than to be honest and keep his promises. How so?
- What should a prince do if he can't fight with laws? The prince must be both a man and a beast. What examples does he provide?
- How should the prince act both as a fox and as a lion? How does M justify this type of behavior?
- Why is it easy for a prince to be deceitful, according to M? (page 1614, par. 3)
- M suggests that a prince should only seem to appear virtuous, and not necessarily always act that way. Why? (last paragraph on page 1615)
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- M suggests that our lives are guided by Fortune half the time, and we have control over the other half. How can man counter when struck by bad Fortune?
- M says that "a prince will be fortunate who adjusts his behavior to the temper of the times, and on the other hand will be unfortunate when his behavior is not well attuned to the times". What explanation does he provide for this opinion?
- How should man react to Fortune? (last paragraph)