Quote a sentence or two from The Prince that best summarizes the entire work.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many quotes that can be identified to bring out Macchiavell's element of pragmatism that he says must govern those who govern.  Some of them reflect a very cynical value set, while others were uttered then and seen now as political expediency.  This one reflects such an idea from Chapter III:

The injury therefore that you do to a man should be such that you need not fear his revenge.

I find this idea to reflect Macchievelli's fundamental theme that politics is power and that the need to control and be dominant is the purpose of such a game.  The idea of "finishing the job" is something that Macchiavelli suggests is the fundamental secret to good leadership.  Individuals who fail  to recognize politics as a fundamental game of power are doomed to fail in it.  When the political leader has to exert injury on an individual or make a point, Macchiavelli says that force and purpose have to be involved.  Nothing should be done in half measures.

Naturally, I think thart the relationship that a leader has with the people is of vital importance to the work.  Here, too, politics is revealed as one of perception, almost a game of "smoke and mirrors" in which the leader has to be in control:

For, besides what has been said, it should be borne in mind that the temper of the multitude is fickle, and that while it is easy to persuade them of a thing, it is hard to fix them in that persuasion.

The idea that the public is "fickle," something that can be manipulated has become a staple of both the work and of political leadership, in general.  Macchiavelli does believe that individuals can be molded, and public opinion can be designed to ensure political obedience and political credibility.  In this, Macchiavelli proves ahead of the curve in his assertion of the need to "spin" what it out there for one's own political benefit.

The final quote I selected is the age old problem of being feared or being loved.  If the leader has to choose between both, which path should be taken:

And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.

No quote brings out the awful cynicism in Macchiavelli than this one.  In this notion, politics is not one of the Athenian community or the collaboration of the Roman senate.  It is a reality where one seeks to be respected moreover, where fear is the political impetus and love or devotion comes secondary.  It is one where control is the most important element of a political consciousness.  It is one that is derided from the outside, until one has power, at which point it becomes revered.

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The Prince

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