Alyssa Morren

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Radasanu, Andrea M., 1973-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Machiavelli; Niccolò; 1469-1527. Mandragola; Machiavelli; Niccolò; 1469-1527. Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio. English; Effeminacy in literature--History and criticism; Gender identity in literature--History and criticism


This thesis explores the linkages between effeminacy and women in Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy and Mandragola. In the Discourses, Machiavelli creates a masculine ideal without sufficiently articulating the prerequisites necessary to fulfill that ideal. However, he does not hesitate to deem things that do not meet those standards as effeminate. Effeminacy is a trait that can be ascribed to things as well as people, and appears to be the antithesis of the behavior Machiavelli wants to encourage. While effeminacy typically connotes a disparagement of men as well as women, it is difficult to tell if that is indeed what Machiavelli means in his use of the term. By carefully reviewing his discussions of effeminacy as well as his treatment of women, a more nuanced interpretation of his thought emerges. It appears that although women and effeminate men are typically left out of traditional power structures, there may be a way for both to overcome their defects. Machiavelli's play Mandragola offers insight into how this may occur.


Advisors: Andrea Radasanu.||Committee members: S. Adam Seagrave; Matthew J. Streb.||Includes bibliographical references.


34 pages




Northern Illinois University

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