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Irony In All King's Men Essay

1616 words - 6 pages

William Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men is novel that explores the political society and its influences. Like several politicians in modern society, several characters have qualities that seem unsuitable to the impression that have made. These ironies in All the King’s Men reveal how the characters have flaws, which can result in critical consequences. Jack Burden, Adam Stanton, Judge Irwin and Willie Stark are characters that with ironic traits.
Jack Burden is known as the “student of history” ( Warren 372). The very fact that he is a historian is ironic, as he has come from an aristocratic and reputable family and grew up in Burden’s Landing. However, Jack lacks the ambition needed to excel in life and works for Willie, despite the disapproval of this family. He “not only lacks ambition, but all ‘essential confidence’ in himself” (Bloom 132). If he had ambition, he could have married Anne Stanton earlier, as Anne would always tell him to “go on back to State and finish up” and then she will marry him “even before [he] gets [his] law degree” (448). Yet, Jack forced himself to get kicked out of school. Even as a historian, Jack cannot deal with new things he learns about people he is closely associated with. After he learned that Lois was actually a person and not “merely a luscious machine” he went into one of series of the Great Sleep ( Warren 459). After he learned about Anne Stanton and Willie’s affair, Jack temporarily escaped to the West because “when [people] don’t like whey [the] are [they] always go West” (Warren 464). Jack was not able to cope with this news that he had to leave to relieve his mind. In addition, as a historian, he does not delve into his own past. Concerning his father, he only knew that the Scholarly Attorney left him and his mother one day. Jack never bothered to find out the circumstances or tried to contact the Scholarly Attorney. Even when he does meet the Scholarly Attorney, he does not question him. If he did delve into his past, then he could have found out that Judge Irwin was his real father. This could have prevented Judge Irwin’s death, as Jack may have refused or would have not even been asked to find “dirt” on him (Warren 74). In addition, it is ironic that despite being a historian, Jack believes in the “Great Twitch,” which is that life must be viewed in a “mystic vision,” as life is unpredictable (Warren 473). This allows man to “feel clean and free,” as their actions have no effect (Warren 473). The irony exists in that historian study deep into the past to find the reasons for things, and now, Jack has started to believe that these reasons do not exist.
Adam Stanton is developed as a righteous man of honor and the “most civilized denizen” (Martin 1171). Despite hating Willie and his principles, Adam agrees to be the manager of the Hospital, as he saw it was the right thing to do after he learned about his father’s sinful involvement in the bribe. He saw it as his duty to make up for this sin....

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