Is it Better to be Feared than Loved?

After reading many articles focused on humanism, the one article that stood out for me was Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince [excerpts], 1513 from the Medieval Scrapbook. One of the points that were made in the article was that it is better for princes or those of high stature to be feared than loved. Do I agree with his statement? Not necessarily. I do however understand the reasons behind that belief and agree that it can be more effective in some situations.

If a prince were to befriend certain subjects of his, and these subjects challenged the law, it would put the prince in a difficult situation and likely cause a commotion within the kingdom if the prince were to treat them differently than other subjects. If one subject in a kingdom is treated differently than others, it would undoubtedly be bad for the kingdom and could result in riots and completely change how the community functions.

For a kingdom, this act is probably very sufficient. However, if parents used the technique of being feared instead of loved, a family would likely be very dysfunctional and the children could grow up having a twisted look of the world. If parents constantly were punishing their children, showing no affection or positive reinforcement, or doing their best to have their children fear them, these children would be more likely to fear the world and/or rebel. This would just cause more problems within our communities.

In some situations, being feared is better than being loved. However, in others, it would likely have a negative result. Personally, I do not believe that love is negative. It may sound cliché, but I do believe that if one is given the love and support that they need, they will be ok. I am torn by the argument that being feared is always better than being loved because it depends on the situation. If there is a kingdom or community that has enforced laws and a person of high stature bends the rules for the love of his/her subjects, it can definitely result in chaos. If parents, friends, or teachers used this technique, it would have a great effect on the children and I do not believe that fear is the best method when used with children.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. “Medieval Sourcebook: Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince [excerpts], 1513.”Fordham History . J. M. Dent and Sons, 1908. Web. 15 Feb 2012. <;.



  1. austin0907

    Your opinions are very interesting. You cover the fact that creating too close a relationship could lead to problems; does that mean a prince is not allowed to have friends? I would love to hear more of your opinions about the aspect of fear in terms of a prince’s method of ruling and how that is better than love.

  2. claire1431

    I also found your opinions very interesting. This is a very debatable topic. Because if the prince were to have friends and relationships, their could be lots of chaos in society, if he favored his friends more than others. But if he has no love and decides to simply live in fear of others, then he could live a very hard life himself. Are there really any ways to not have chaos, but also for the Prince to have friendships and relationships with others? I would like to know kind of your idea of how the princes life would be like with fear instead of love, and maybe how that could be better too.
    Great post I really liked it!

  3. mralexacademic2014

    Very intriguing post, but it kind of left me wondering. You say that in many cases it is better for a ruler to be loved than to be feared, but you put up no evidence as to why it is better to be loved, only cases against it. You keep referring to reasons why loving your subjects is bad, but none as to why it would be good. So what instances are better for them to love rather than to hate. Thanks again for the interesting post.

  4. Greetings Abbie,

    Your post I would say was well written with strong opinions and a clear understanding of the article. I do however not agree with you completely on every point that you make, but I respect the time and effort you put into writing this blog post. I’m still curious though, when you say that there are some situations where it is better to be feared than loved, what are some examples besides that of a family?

    – Michael

  5. nickyrob

    Hey Abbie,

    I really enjoyed your piece and I feel you brought up a lot of good points, however I do have a question for you. If prince was feared by everyone how could he have friends or any sort of relationship with other people? Once again I really enjoyed your piece and thank you for putting the time into writing it.


  6. jisoo966

    Hi Abbie! I really like your post! Your opinion and the examples that you gave were very interesting. I agree with you that being feared than loved is not the best way for the high stature. When being feared or loved can both result in chaos, how should the high stature be like?
    – Jisoo

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