What are the main elements of true authority, and how are they evident in The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, The Myth of Psychotherapy by Thomas Szasz, and Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald? How are these elements similar and how are they different?

The main elements of true authority in The Prince, The Myth of Psychotherapy, and The Great Gatsby are deception and appearance. However, the prince has direct power while the psychologist and Jay Gatsby are more like reflections of what their societies imbue with authority.

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To investigate the main elements of true authority in The Prince, The Myth of Psychotherapy, and The Great Gatsby, one will have to identify how real power or true authority is presented in the three books, synthesize the depictions, then sort out how they’re alike and unlike.

With all three texts, true authority seems to arrive via deception. That is, people who have power often obtain hegemony by duplicitous or underhanded means. In Thomas Szasz’s book, psychotherapists procure their authority through the construct of mental health. In Niccolò Machiavelli’s text, the prince should “exhibit” good qualities—he should construct a virtuous image—yet if he wants to hold onto power, he might actually need to do a thing or two that “looks like vice.” Finally, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, Jay Gatsby grabs influence by constructing an image of himself as a person of mystery and intrigue.

As for differences, in The Prince, the person with true authority possesses direct, tangible power. The prince rules their land and can, hypothetically, pass various laws and edicts. In The Myth of Psychotherapy and The Great Gatsby, the person with true authority is not a direct true source of authority. Neither the psychologist nor Gatsby is an actual ruler. They are, however, agents of authority, or, in other words, reflections of what constitutes power in society. In Fitzgerald’s novel, Gatsby has authority because of the power that society grants wealth. In Szasz’s book, the psychologist has power because of the power that society instills in mental health.

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