All the Kings Men - Tragedy Through Good Will

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SV399-01
29 March 2012
Tragedy through Good Will
“Is it better to be feared or loved, if one cannot have both,” was once proposed by Machiavelli in The Prince, which to this day has a significant impact on the perspective of political empires and their rulers (Machiavelli). In Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, Willie Stark explores a means to achieve both ends which results in a hero’s tragic downfall resulting in the ultimate culmination of misfortune the loss of life. Robert Penn Warren’s masterpiece loosely follows Aristotle’s tragedy outline which is comprised of six parts, plot, characterization, thought, diction, melody, and spectacle(Aristotle). Willie Stark’s path to calamity is most noticed through his interaction with characters, the movement of plot, and his catharsis. Willie’s flaws are drawn from his interaction in politics, betrayal, his moral relativism, and circumstantial events which stir his perception on the world. Willie is caught in mixture of a political game which changes his perception on the world around him. His first experience in politics involves him being the chess piece of other players, and he is held completely oblivious to this endeavor until Sadie, one of Willie’s administrators, alerts him of this fact. Until this realization, Willie was bland in politics, because he fought for what the people needed in terms of laws and bills, versus rallying the people to the cause through boisterous promises of luxury. Willie was sheltered from the dark side of politics, and his wanting was merely a dream that would have resulted in a fortuitous outcome, had he been elected. After Willie realizes he was duped, turns to the first vice in his life, drinking. The audience sympathizes with Willie because of his initial adversity. In Epicurus, Aristotle describes a tragic hero’s journey as one of, “complete serious action which arouses pity and fear,” from the audience. Through Jack Burden’s narration, which is also a crucial part to...
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