p.p1 structure of society around the well-being

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Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince and Thomas More’s Utopia depict how a society functions, and maintains itself. Both books attempt to solve problems within an idealistic society by critiquing other institutions and creating their own solutions; however, the outlooks of such solutions differ considerably in the two works. The Prince, written in 1513, provides a handbook to become a Prince who will maintain and satisfy his empire. Utopia, written in 1516, creates an ideal civilization that will live happily and without problems. These works, although similar on the surface, reflect the views each author has on the ideal values and systems of a civilization, and they do so in very different ways. 

In the imaginary civilization of Utopia, More creates the structure of society around the well-being of its populace. Utopia focuses on caring for its citizens in order to maintain order and happiness within the people, the premise of this lifestyle being “to get through life as comfortably and cheerfully as we can, and help all other members of our species to do so too” (More 91). This is achieved by practicing tolerance and equality. All decisions that were made benefited the Utopian society as a whole, and in turn, this sense of equality was instilled in the people, enabling all to live blissfully. 

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Contrary to Utopia, the hierarchy of power and the longevity of the state is the focus of an ideal society, according to Machiavelli. The Prince was written for the use of one man to dominate over and control his kingdom. Machiavelli argues that devastating a region is the most reliable way to secure power; “the surest way is to wipe them out” (Machiavelli 18), he does not address the ethical or moral objections to his advice. Machiavelli declares that a leader who brings stability and peace by way of cruelty, should be thought of as more considerate than a leader who brings destruction upon his state with misplaced kindness. He answers the question of whether it is better to be loved or feared by saying: “The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both” (Machiavelli 54). It is clear that the use of cruelty for its own sake is not advised, however a prince must be willing to take cruel measures if it benefits the state. For Machiavelli, it is the well being and control of a prince’s kingdom, that takes precedence over the happiness of the people. 

Another comparison one could make is the types of governments in the two respective societies. In The Prince, the government is an absolute monarchy or even a dictatorship. Power and war are the basis of forming a strong government. Machiavelli focuses on the manipulation of people to maintain power. 

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