Niccolo Machiavelli was most likely one of the most dispised and feared men during the seventeenth century. He influenced European and Elizabethian thought. Many writers of the day mentioned machiavellian ideas including those influenced by Machiavelli's The Prince, his masterful book explaining how a Prince should truly gain and maintain a kingdom. His suggestions and truths about the corruption of a monarchy shocked Reinessance society. Shakespeare also influenced by Machiavelli and understanding his impact on society, utilized the Machiavellian views in his numerous plays, as recognized by both John Dunby and Thomas Spenser. From Julius Caesar to Macbeth, from Othello to Hamlet, Shakespeare presented at least one machiavel. Typically, the Machiavellian character is the essence of evil in the play: the villain. Rarely is there a good machiavel and usually that character is set juxtaposed to the cruel machiavel. Of all of Shakespeare's plays, King Lear contains Machiavellism in the villain aspect and one can say that Edmund is this type of tragic Shakespearian villain. However, is Edmund truly, in all aspects, a machiavel? Through revealing characteristics and extenuating events surrounding him, Edmund is the model Machiavellian as well as the essential Shakespearian machiavel-villain. .
Shakespeare uses a machiavel to commence, irritate, and end the problems in his tragedies. King Lear continues the typical Shakespearian use of a machiavel-villain. One characteristic common in the machiavel shows through the degeneration of the other major characters in the play: "One notable thing is that in the degeneration of a man we watch the procreation of a machiavel- (Dunby 162). The destruction of one man gives the machiavel the stepping stones necessary to establish his quest for power. Furthermore, through the ruin of a character, the Machiavellian can learn more of what he can use to "procreate- himself further.