Utopia by Thomas More and The Prince by Machiavelli
Thomas More’s Utopia and Machiavelli’s The Prince both concern themselves with the
fundamental issues of how a society works and maintains itself. The goals behind the two works,
however, differ considerably. The goal of Utopia is to illustrate the maintenance of an “ideal”
society and the goal of The Prince is to instruct a prince, or ruler, on how to maintain his state.
On the surface these two goals may seem similar but the difference lies in the way the authors
handle the subject of power. As a manual, or handbook if you will, Prince treats power as a
necessity, a goal, to be worked towards and maintained, almost at all costs. Utopia, a fantasy,
treats power as something all individuals have; rather, they are empowered. By comparing the
way both works use and treat point of view and form, governmental systems and ideals the
differences in perspective on power becomes clearer.
Ideas are brought forth differently in both works through narrative point of view and
style. These two different ways reflect the views of power the authors hold. The Prince is told
in a matter of fact tone, its purpose being to inform a prince on how to run his kingdom. Inherent
in this purpose is a key to Mach’s view of power. Because it was written for the use of one man
to dominate over and control his kingdom/state, it was obviously not meant for lesser mortals. It
in itself is a tool of power which could be used for only the good of the prince who uses it.
Whether or not the people are empowered does not matter, it is irrelevant. It only matters that the
prince uses it to maintain his own power. In contrast, Utopia is a fantasy written by More to
suggest an alternative way of life for the people. He focuses very little on the doings of the prince
in his ideal society; what matters in Utopia is the actions of the people. One might even say that
the people are empowered, but the ideals that truly run the society, are empowered. More’s true
focus does not even lie in power, but in the seeking of ideals.
A second comparison that one could make is that the types of governments also have
inherent qualities within them concerning power. In the Prince, the government is either a
theoretical monarchy or dictatorship. Mach focuses on...