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Do the Ends ever Justify the Means?

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Hello all!

This is one of my favourite lessons to give at the moment and the most popular! It’s funny how many Machiavellian moments we all either instigate, participate in or over-come in our every day lives. Which principles, do you think, are more effective in achieving our own, well deserved and hard-earned dreams; being a good, kind, forgiving person or leaning a bit more towards the “Ends Justify the Means” approach?

Lesson Vocabulary

  • Dastardly: evil, cruel
  • Unscrupulous: without principles
  • An incontrovertible problem: an undeniable, insurmountable problem
  • A well-disposed person: a nice person
  • Prepared to outright lie: prepared to lie with no shame
  • To trample on someone: to humiliate and betray someone
  • Honeyed words: fake words designed to flatter you only
  • Bedazzle / dazzling: something that distracts you
  • Ruthlessness: being uncaring, harsh or even brutal to achieve your own goals
  • Wicked: evil, bad


Try and use all of the above vocabulary in your answer

What’s your opinion on the statement “Nice guys always finish last”?

Teacher Chloe’s Sample Answer – TOEFL / IELTS / CPE / CAE Level (this is super advanced English guys, don’t panic, remember, it’s always nice to have a goal)


As far as I’m concerned there is definitely a lot of truth in the statement ‘Nice guys finish last”.


When a well disposed person is challenged, perhaps at work, or by a dastardly and wicked bully at school, they may well try and ignore the situation, hoping it will go away. However, for whatever rationale, this devious person will not stop until they have completely trampled on our poor character. The main point pivots around the incontrovertible problem that the person being bullied has made it easy for this individual, bent on ruthlessness, to gain enjoyment and a sense of power from their suffering.


A possible solution could involve honeyed words and bedazzling flattery to win over the bully in question; perhaps even being prepared to outright lie. To this end, by being fake, manipulative and Machiavellian, the oppressed turns the tables on their oppressor and has a less stressful life. To my mind, in this case, unless the nice guy engages in at least some sort of unscrupulous behaviour, he or she will always ‘finish last’


Before watching the video
What do you know about Machiavelli’s book, The Prince?
Video Questions
  • Where do the ideals of a ‘nice’ person originate?
  • What advice does Machiavelli give on how to make the world a better place?
  • In your opinion / experience, is there any truth in what Machiavelli promotes?
  • Do you have to be nice to be charming?


Imagine you are applying for a job / university vacancy. Explain to the board why they should pick you instead of any other candidate.

HINT: Be imaginative, use honeyed vocabulary and outright lies, in other words, be Machiavellian and have fun!


  1. Take the Machiavellianism personality test!

One of our teachers got 95 out of 100 on the above test (Should we be worried?! Comments / advice on this also welcome! lol)

2. Watch this short video

Have fun and please feel free to comment in the comments box below

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Featured image Jeremy Vessey

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