What Is the Machiavellian Character?

A Machiavellian character is a person that has the characteristics and qualities presented in Niccolo Machiavelli's book "The Prince." These characteristics include cunning, scheming and a predilection for expediency rather than morality.

There are many characters in popular fiction, television and film that have been based around the Machiavellian characterization or who are considered Machiavellian characters. Tony Soprano in "The Sopranos" is a good example. He is happy to lie and trick his way through his life in order to keep his kingpin situation.

Another example of the character of Francis Urquhart in the television show "House of Cards." This character is a politician that is full of ambition and is ruthless in his pursuit of power. He does not care about the moral implications of what he does, but is only interested in the quickest way to realizing his power. In the character's backstory, he is an expert on Machiavelli and his book "The Prince." Urquhart, is most concerned with the ends rather than the means it takes to get there, which is exactly what Machiavelli is concerned with.

A Shakespearean example can be seen in Iago from Shakespeare's play "Othello." Iago lies, schemes, cheats and tricks Othello and others throughout the play in order to get what he wants. He does not care about who is hurt as long as he gets what he needs and wants. He is also very clever and cunning.