Personal And Emotional Ties In All The King’s Men

1746 words - 7 pages

If only time travel were possible, the past would no longer be an entity to regret. Every single person on this planet has regrets of unfulfilled past opportunities, and that is no exaggeration. No human can honestly say they have lived a life with no regrets. One of the main flaws of human nature is hindsight, or the ability to look back on past mistakes and form new ideas as to how the situation could have better been handled. In the story All the King’s Men, Jack Burden is his own worst enemy. Jack takes everything to the heart, no matter how menial the comment or action. He allows his past to rule his life as though history repeats itself without fail. The person allowing the past to repeat itself is Jack, however his so-called best friend Willie shares the blame. Willie is the reason for most of Jack’s misfortunes although Jack always has the option to walk away but never does. The downfall of man will be none other than himself. For example, no critic but the artist who created the work will see each and every flaw. In All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren utilizes a myriad of characters and their emotions to display morose obsessions with previous faults.
Personal history plays the main role in the life story of Jack Burden and/or Willie Stark. Jack’s fixation with his past drives him directly into Willie’s arms as a means of finding dirt on others. Jack’s upbringing with Adam brings Adam into the whole scheme of the hospital and Willie’s ultimate demise. The author writes, “It was Adam Stanton. I saw that his clothes were soaked and that mud and filth were sloped up his trousers half to the knees. I understood the abandoned car. He had walked away from it, in the rain. (…) his eyes were on the Boss, not on me. “Adam,” I said, “Adam!” He took a step toward us(…)Then the Boss veered towards Adam, and thrust out his hand in preparation for a handshake. “Howdy-do, Doctor,” he began (…) Adam stood there immobile (…) Then he put out his hand, and as he did so I felt a surge of relief and thought: He’s shaking hands with him, he’s all right now, he’s all right. Then I saw what was in his hand (…) I saw the two little spurts of pale orange flame from the muzzle of the weapon” (551-552). Adam Stanton killing Willie represents the epitome of letting personal history draw you in to the most heinous situations. (Transition) In her article, Magill’s Survey of American Literature, Katherine Snipes analyzes the ways in which each main character escapes his past. The article states, “It is a story of men who do not know themselves. Willie Stark thinks he can use evil means to achieve good ends. Jack Burden tries to avoid guilt by running away from it or simply not seeing it, and he does not recognize his own father and inadvertently kills him. Judge Irwin, representative of the old genteel tradition, literally forgets his original sin. Adam Stanton, the puritan idealist, suddenly casts off all restraints to kill Willie Stark”. Each of these men use...

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