Western Civ the Question of Leadership and Term Paper

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Western Civ

The question of leadership and government has always been a subject that concerned political theorists. One of the first political theorists to brake up with the Medieval tradition regarding rulers and the ethics of government, Niccolo Machiavelli, presented his theories related to the rules a prince should follow in order to be able to govern a state and stay in power as long as possible. Machiavelli left the question of ethics completely for religious subjects and treated his topic form a rationale point-of-view destined to prescribe the best recipe for a political ruler to follow in order to succeed. Shakespeare's Richard III and George Orwell's The Animal Farm present two different political regimes, the former focusing on dynastic battles in England in the fifteenth century and the latter on fictional animal characters that resemble real life characters form the early twentieth century revolutionary Russia. Despite the fact that the Shakespearean play and the film that was made based on the play in 1955 and The Animal Farm are presenting events and characters that lived in different times and in opposite forms of government is irrelevant because the aspiring leaders that will eventually seize power follow most of the guidelines prescribed by Machiavelli to the ideal ruler.

Human nature and most importantly, human weaknesses, are the great supporters of those who observe and know how to use them. Machiavelli merely pointed out ways to manipulate, one's entourage, friends and enemies alike and eventually, a whole country into supporting one to acquire and stay in power. The two aforementioned literary works exemplify the way the duke of Gloucester, of the house of York, and the pig Napoleon use all possible resources, including lies, treachery, deception and manipulation in oder to ascend to power.

Critics have pointed out that the duke of Gloucester, future king Richard III, is a character that portrays the essence of evil and is therefore more suitable to be considered an archetype, a theatrical illustration of human vice than a real person. He is vilified to the marrow of his bones and that is what makes the contemporary public consider him the result of a biased historical analysis. On the other had, the film that is closely following the Shakespearean play and the magnificent interpretation of Laurence Olivier are using the power of words and the magic of the image to recreate one of the most despicable characters in literary history. Richard III does not spare anyone for his love of power and nothing is too despicable for him is it serves his personal interests. Contrary to the way Richard III comes to the throne of England, the pig Napoleon ascends to power through the power of the masses, riding on the waves of a revolution. Nevertheless, soon after he became a leader, Napoleon started to use Machiavellian methods in order to secure his power and remove his potential opponents. He becomes thus a tyrant, governing by terror.

Both, Richard III and the pig Napoleon knew how "not to be good"(The Prince, p. 13) in order to rule by fear. Machiavelli argues that the means employed by a prince are to be chosen rationally and only after a careful consideration of the necessities. Machiavelli does not specify here whose necessity, although it is obvious that only the prince's count here. In Richard III's case, the necessities of the country and his countrymen are altogether obscured. Richard's weak excuse of being physically disabled is not justifying his obsession and love for power.

Although Richard III had only reigned for two years, being defeated by Richmond, the future king Henry VII and the founder of the Tudor dynasty, his use of the Machiavellian ruling methods helped him to acquire the highest position in the leadership of England. They did not help him to stay there for too long, though. The dynastic rivalries and the frequent fights between those who claimed the throne were waiting for the person who would become the perfect ruler, according to the Machiavellian theories. Tudor dynasty will give England a few notable monarchs, among whom, not far from the times of Richard III, Henry VIII, the famous divider of the Church and one of the kings who spared nothing and no one for the famous Machiavellian "necessities."

Pigs will form alliances with human beings towards the end of Orwellian fable and the differences between the two will thus fade. Self-interest prevails and Machiavelli's prince appears to more accurately describing the reality in many states than anyone before him. One of the most important dilemmas of a leader often finds its solution by choosing the safest method: ruling by fear. As Machiavelli explains: "Men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared"… "fear is maintained by a thread of punishment which never fails" (The Prince, p. 14). The argument for ruling by fear is more obvious in The Animal Farm. The pig Napoleon, as his model, Stalin, had the blood from the massacres they order as the foundation of their rule.

Contrary to the ends of Machivalli's Prince, the Orwellian book is a case that shows the author as insisting "on telling people precisely what they did not have to fear" (The Animal Farm, Preface, p. ix). The world of politics, even in democracies, has never missed compromised and deception. Even today's politician that is democratically elected is highly aware that in order to get people to vote for him or her and the parties they represent, they have to say what they think people want to hear. Political adversaries were always best when they fought against each other, so that a third party could campaign at ease.

Richard III was a master at setting people against each other. The scene of his first encounter with Anne, his future wife, over the body of her murdered husband, is presenting the aspiring king true nature. He opens the door to the mortuary procession and shows no respect for the living as well as for the dead. He is declaring his attraction to the grieving widow whose husband he possibly killed himself. He bends over the coffin, lies to the widow and whispers in her ear that her late husband was "unfit for her bedchamber." His behavior indicates that he has studied human nature very well and those who might stand in his way or serve his purpose, as Lady Anne, he treats according to the teachings of Machiavellian theories. Machiavelli considers that most examples of rulers and their governing would support his theories that the most successful princes are those who "had little regard for good faith, and have been able by astuteness to confuse men's brains, and… have ultimately overcome those who have made loyalty their foundation." No one is safe around Ricchard III or Orwell's pig Napoleon. The former marries Anne only to send her to death when she no longer served his necessities. Napoleon betrays Snowball's friendship and pushes him away in order to secure his sole leadership, trains small puppies to become ruthless killers, sells the most dedicated to the revolutionary cause of the Anima Farm, the horse Boxer, to the glue factory.

The pig Napoleon lets the people think that the best way for them be ruled is for him to be gather power into his own hand thus creating a centralized government. His allies, friends or political supporters are mercilessly shoved out of the way if they start threatening his authority. The same applies to Richard III. He has nor friends and he does not even spare the innocent children of the late king Edward, his brother in order to become king.

Both Richard III and Napoleon are able to put on the skin of a fox or that of a lion, according…[continue]

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