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The Nature of American Politics in All the Kings Men

  • Date Submitted: 09/23/2010 07:50 AM
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The Nature of American Politics in All the King’s Men
Throughout Robert Penn Warren’s novel All the King’s Men, politics plays a fundamental role in the background of the story. It is obvious that Warren’s agenda was to neither praise nor absolutely condemn American politics, yet his novel provides an example of political corruption and its corresponding hazards. The novel uses examples of political scandals to exhibit the truth behind politics, especially in the 1930s. As the “Boss”, Willie Stark obtains more political prominence, his ethical practices deteriorate and he begins to employ amoral means to secure his political aspirations. Early in their careers, politicians such as Willie Stark and Judge Montague Irwin used lawful practices. Later, due to certain circumstances Willie Stark and Judge Irwin both feel that corruption is inevitable and the only way to reach their goals, however, corruption always taints whatever good result may occur. Unfortunately, their dishonesty never lagged too far behind them. Both attempt to mend their corrupt ways, but are unable to escape the corruption in their past. Willie Stark and Judge Irwin’s corruption significantly transforms their lives, and ultimately leads to their downfall.
Earlier in his political career, Judge Irwin was a honorable and law abiding Attorney General. He was revered by many including Governor Joel Stanton. Unfortunately towards the end of his term, Judge Irwin finds himself in a financial crisis, and abandons is morals to save his plantation. He feels that the only way to escape his financial ruin is to turn to corruption, and he takes a bribe “to let up on the suit against the Southern Bell Fuel people” (341). He is given a lucrative job at American Electric Power Company soon after the end of his term. Judge Irwin quickly returns to his original law abiding ways in hopes that he could mend his corrupt political ways.
Even though Judge Irwin’s dishonesty was in his past, it did not stay hidden in...


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