The media portrays a vast number of archetypes through the animation of characters. Specifically, the archetype of a good leader is continually put on display. The idea of a good leader is ancient, it has been introduced in the past by famous writer, Niccolo Machiavelli. Film adopts these same principles of the good leader from people such as Machiavelli. Characters that are successful at gaining followers and building positive relationships exemplify good leaders, whereas characters that cannot achieve these things exemplify bad leaders.
Niccolo Machiavelli’s theme of adaptability to be a good, successful eader is depicted in the popular television series, “Prison Break”, through the protagonist Michael Scofield, who is adaptive: in personality, to the time and in good virtue (Machiavelli, N). A good leader must have a strong personality. This person’s personality must be able to induce people into following him/ her. Machiavelli defines this advantageous personality as “half beast, half man” (Machiavelli, N).
Additionally, Machiavelli states “it is important for a leader to know how to make use of both natures and that one without the other is not urable” (Machiavelli, N) Machiavelli manufactures the connection of a leader needing to understand how to effectively deal with different types of people. A good leader’s personality must be adaptable, to essentially go back and forth between man and beast. The man persona may be more suitable for a compassionate person, while the beast persona may work best with an aggressive person.
This interpretation is depicted in Prison Break through the protagonist Michael Scofield, in his relationships with the other inmates. For instance, in season 1 Michael purposely gets arrested and placed into prison. He requests to be in the same prison as his older brother that is on death row, for a crime he is wrongly convicted of committing. His objective is to break his brother out before he is executed. Michael is aware that he cannot do achieve this by himself, so he requests help from the other inmates.
However, he must uniquely interact with each one of the inmates to get what he needs. A good leader such as Michael understands that everyone is different and by appealing to the personality of each person correctly would bring him the most success, in getting them to help. One of the people Michael interacts with is his cell-mate, Fernando Sucre, who was imprisoned for robbing a liquor store to get money for an engagement ring (Scheuring, Paul). After communicating with Fernando, Michael learns that he is a very compassionate person.
Michael strategically uses the man persona of his personality to be compassionate with Fernando, so they can both benefit from their relationship. Michael treats Fernando as if they were family, and Fernando responds well to this treatment, which allows Michael to manipulate him. This demonstrates Machiavelli’s definition of an daptive personality of a good leader to get others to follow. On the contrary, Michael’s beast persona of his adaptable personality is shown through his interaction with Theodore Bagwell (T-Bag). T-Bag is a murderer and rapist who is serving a life sentence (Scheuring, Paul).
Michael treats this man quite differently from Fernando. He treats T-Bag like an animal and only puts up with him because he is crucial for a successful escape from the prison. Michael treats him in this manner because he realizes this is the only way he will get through T- Bags aggressive personality. Once again, Michael exemplifies his positive leadership through the adaptability of his personality to deal with different types of people. This proves Machiavelli’s teaching of a good leader being able to have an adaptive personality to be successful and lead his people.
Being a good leader not only stems from having an adaptable personality, but also being adaptable to varying circumstances. Any wise man knows that different times call for different measures. Precisely, a good leader knows no situation is identical, and to be successful they must adapt to different situations. Machiavelli stresses the importance of the good leader “adapting his methods to the times: a method used today may make a man ruler of the world; the same methods used fifty years from now may lead to disaster” (Machiavelli, N).
Machiavelli further explains this by saying “one who governs himself with caution and patience, times and affairs converge in such a way that his administration is successful, his fortune is made; but if times and affairs change, he is ruined if he does not change his course of action” (Machiavelli, N). Machiavelli elucidates the importance of changing the way one handles ifferent situations and being adaptable to not always tackling situations the same. Michael Scofield from Prison Break, demonstrates perfect understanding of this through the way he plans his breakouts.
Primarily, in season 1 his break-out from Fox River Penitentiary was completely stealth. Michael chose to break out at midnight by effectively using the element of surprise in every phase of his plan. He carefully conducted research of the prison, so that the guards did not know him and his followers were gone until it was too late (Scheuring, Paul). Michael exhibits the qualities of a good leader in a Machiavellian ociety by adapting to the times in this scenario to be successful.
Furthermore, in season 3 Michael is sent to a different prison where he must break out once again. The producer does an excellent job of deceiving the viewers to think that Michaels’ break out will be like the previous one in season 1 (Scheuring, Paul). However, this is not the case. Michael sticks to the teaching of Machiavelli and uses his ability to adapt to the times to be a good, successful leader. Michael chooses to break out in broad daylight while setting off a fire alarm, sacrificing the trategy of stealth he once relied on before (Scheuring, Paul).
Michael is a good leader because not only can he continuously break-out of prison, but also get the people he promised out as well, using his skill of adaptability to the times. Being a good leaders’ foundation comes from being adaptable to the times as well as adaptability in good virtue. Having good virtues is important for a leader, however Machiavelli explains “it is unnecessary for a good leader to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them” (Machiavelli, N). Machiavelli expresses the importance of perception.
He believes it is not important what you have or what you can do, but what people think you have or think you can do. Machiavelli continues to say “it is necessary for him to have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as the winds and variations of fortune force it. so framed that should you require not to be so; you may be able and know how to change to the opposite (Machiavelli, N)”. Machiavelli clarifies that a good leader should know how to be adaptable to dispense virtues as needed to be successful. Michael Scofield is lso adaptive in good virtue, most prominently mercy.
In season 1 there was a new inmate at Fox River Penitentiary, where Michael was staying. This new inmate was a young man, who had been put in prison for accidentally stealing a rare baseball card. Michael felt bad for this kid because he did not belong in prison and the other inmates were going to take advantage of him. Michael shows mercy and protects this kid while he is in prison and even includes him in his plans to break out (Scheuring, Paul). However, Michael realizes the relationship he has with this kid is toxic and will only hold him ack.
When Michael got out of prison, he told the kid he would have to go his own way. Michael realizes this kid would be helpless on his own, end up caught, and be thrown back into prison, or even worse killed. (Scheuring, Paul). Yet, Michael still abandons the good virtue of mercy for the well-being of everyone else and his escape plan. This indeed exemplifies the actions of a good leader to Machiavelli, someone who can disregard a good virtue based on the situation. Michael’s adaptability to use and dispense good virtues makes him an ideal Machiavellian leader.
Niccolo Machiavell’s theme of the ability to be adaptive in areas of personality, to the times and in good virtues to be a good successful leader, is depicted through Michael Scofield. Both Niccolo Machiavelli and Michael Scofield understand how to treat different types of people to effectively manipulate them and recognize different times call for different techniques to accomplish a goal. Moreover, they use and dispense good virtues when needed to get what they need. These three aspects make Niccolo Machiavelli as well as Michael Scofield unique and great leaders in a Machiavellian society.