Why did Machiavelli write The Prince? What message is he trying to send to the readers?

Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Machiavelli's The Prince is very obviously a political piece.  While Machiavelli himself was not a prince, he did grow up in a politically active family in France.  Despite an educated childhood and connection with others of high social standing, Machiavelli struggled to support his own wife and children (probably because he had 16).  This put the author in a position to see things from both sides.  The purpose of The Prince was to present politics in a more realistic rather than idealistic way.

The ideas presented in The Prince were certainly revolutionary for their time, and caused the essay to be highly controversial and much debated by the church and others.  Clearly, Machiavelli was attempting to raise revolutionary political ideas - throw out the idea that  truth and morality are the best methods of gaining power.  Instead, he introduces conniving, cunning, manipulation and selfishness as a means to gain control and stay in power.  Ultimately - people realized that while the ideas sounded new (and certainly horrifying) - they were really just an honest reflection of the truth in politics.

Eventually Machiavelli was praised for his courage to present a reality that many people were simply ignorant of.

badrlaw | Student

It should be mentioned that Machiavelli was born and raised in Florence, Italy.  During his adulthood he had missions to France, but he certainly did not grow up there.