The entire King’s Men


All the King’s Men, written by Robert Penn Warren, is set deep in the south during the 1930’s. This is a story of the rise and fall of a political titan. Willie Stark comes from poverty to become the governor of his state. He forces his enemies into submission by blackmails, repeated threats, and bullies them. He creates a series of liberal reforms that lay heavy tax burdens on the rich and lifts the money issue off of the poor farmers. His foil character Sam MacMurfee persistently searches for way to ruin the career of Willie Starks. Sam MacMurfee has thugs and powerful political allies deep in his pockets. The two characters remind the reader of corrupt figures in politics such as the famous Boss Tweed.


Willie Stark’s right-hand man is Jack Burden. He left his eloquent and polite family to work with Willie. Jack is an extremely intelligent historical researcher that uses his abilities to dig up dirt on Willie’s enemies. Willie uses the secrets to blackmail his enemies into his submission. Often corrupt political figures indirectly pay off other individuals to do the “dirty work” and blackmail their enemies. Although Willie Starks may have been acting corruptly for a good purpose it was still illegal and wrong.


Willie asks Jack to search for secrets on a father figure from his child hood. Judge Irwin was a father figure in Jack’s life as a child. In this situation, Jack’s motivation and responsibility to himself is questioned. Jack discovers that Judge Irwin accepted a bribe and Governor Stanton covers the bribe up. The blackmail influences the suicide of Judge Irwin, makes Adam Stanton accept the position as head of the hospital that Willie is building, and Anne Stanton begins an affair with Willlie. Adam murders Willie when he finds out about Willie and Anne. This horrific event lead to Jack’s retiring from politics forever.


The death of Willie Starks and the circumstances force Jack to rethink the way he thinks. He rethinks a belief that no one can ever be responsible for the evil actions of another individual over time. In a way Jack feels responsible for Willie’s death. Jack eventually marries Anne Stanton and he feels orthodox about his decision to marry her. Jack restarts his long lost hobby of working on a book about Cass Mastern. Jack uses Cass Mastern’s papers as a source for his failed essay in American history.


Are there any people that tend to bully and blackmail others are maybe even you? Bribery, blackmail, and corruption in general are not seen so much in today’s world, but are still occurring on a daily bases. In a time when America’s economy was low I suspect that the temptation was high to act corruptly. Willie Starks seeks out rebate for smaller people as he heavily taxed the rich and blackmailed his enemies. Honest politicians are a rarity in today’s world.