Hamlet, the Machiavellian Prince: An Exploration of Shakespeare's Use of Machiavellian Politics

Shakespeare's Hamlet is not simply a morality play surrounding a grief-mad prince; it is a complex study of political maneuvers as described by Machiavelli. "The rules of this politics, Machiavelli's political science, then, are the choreographed moves, countermoves, and tricks that bring to life the actions of the successful new prince and others."(Tarlton, 8) Many literary critics approach Machiavelli from the perspective of good versus evil. Machiavelli was neither; he was a realist. Machiavelli recorded his analysis of events that he studied or observed, and thus derived his principles of political science. In this paper, the reader will explore Shakespeare's use of Machiavellian politics (as described in The Prince) within the script of Hamlet. Hamlet's world involves jealousy, murder, familial relationships (and their internal struggles), and political scheming. "All the world's a stage," wrote Shakespeare; what we see in the theatre is simply a truer reflection of our lives. "Being within the field of action and never above it, there is only so much an actor seeking lo stato [the state, referring to the creation of a state by the prince] can ever discover. The fiction of il...

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