How has your study of Shakespeare's Macbeth shaped your understanding of ruthlessness? In your speech, please refer to insights gained from Machiavelli's The Prince.

When thinking about an assignment discussing how Macbeth has shaped your own understanding of ruthlessness, it might be useful to think about how the theme of ruthlessness is expressed within the play itself and what Shakespeare himself might have been trying to say. At the same time, given that your assignment cites Machiavelli, it might be useful to consider how Machiavelli himself might have judged Macbeth.

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When discussing an assignment such as this one, it is important to remember that, at its core, it is self-reflective, centered upon your own thoughts and insights on the theme of ruthlessness and what you yourself have taken away from the reading, Macbeth. While I can provide some ideas for consideration, in the end, your own opinion is the only one that can truly be applied to this kind of question.

With that being said, one question you might ask is this: what does Shakespeare actually seem to be saying about political ruthlessness, and how does this compare or contrast with Machiavelli's own arguments? You might consider the larger trajectory of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and their own fates in the end of the play. You might consider also the characterizations of Macduff and Malcolm and the contrast they present to Macbeth.

At the same time, I think it might also be worth contemplating what Machiavelli would have thought about Macbeth's actions. From this perspective, it might actually be useful to consider the degree to which Macbeth falls short of Machiavelli's advice. Ultimately, what I think you should remember is that for Machiavelli, what is truly prized is not so much ruthlessness for its own sake, but rather ruthlessness based in political calculation.

Macbeth, meanwhile, is a tyrant, characterized as falling deeper and deeper into bloodthirsty megalomania throughout the play. In this, I would suggest that Macbeth blatantly runs afoul of one of Machiavelli's most famous precepts (from chapter 17 of The Prince): that while

it is much safer to be feared than to be loved ... a prince must nevertheless make himself feared in such a manner that he will avoid hatred. (The Portable Machiavelli, transl. and ed. by Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa, 131–132)

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