Fear and Terror in Works of Literature

Topic: EnvironmentNatural Disasters
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Last updated: April 22, 2019

“The Prince,” by 16th century political theorist, Niccolo Machiavelli, was a manuscript which served as a guidebook on how to rule. The idea of the book was mainly the most practical and effective way to gain power over group of people and keep it, never taking into account emotions and/or morals. One main way he suggested power could be kept in the hands of the ‘prince’ was through instilling fear in the people he ruled over.

He insisted that it was a viable and practical means of securing power you had gained. Hannah Arendt, in her analysis of terror in a totalitarian state, and Michel Foucault in his analysis of the Panopticon and surveillance society, also appreciate the use of fear tactics in maintaining rule over a state, but there are differences in the way they instill fear amongst citizens. All the writers agree that some level of fear is essential in ruling, but how this is achieved and managed creates the clear distinction between fear and terror. In The Prince, a question is posed on whether it is ‘better to be loved than to be feared’, and Machiavelli begins to argue that in an ideal situation, a Prince should be both loved and feared, but if such a status cannot be achieved, it is better to be feared than loved. His reasoning behind this is because men are by nature, “ungrateful, fickle, dissembling”,so they may abandon their Prince or turn against him at any point in time especially if they fall out of love with their Prince. He claims that fear is a more absolute emotion because it is somewhat universal. What may incite in fear in one man may most likely be enough to incite the same fear in a mother man.

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But since every human is different, what it may take to cause one to love you may be the opposite of what it takes another to love you, and on top of that, it is very difficult to maintain feelings of love amongst an entire populace, but the universality of fear eliminates this challenge. It’s made clear…

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