All the King’s Men
In All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren, Willie Stark is just one example of a morally ambiguous character. When we are first introduced to Willie, he is treasure of his town, Mason County. As the novel progresses, he is put in the position of governor. Motivated by his high ambition, Willie becomes a corrupt politician like many others. He is quickly caught up into the world of blackmail and threat. Even though Willie is caught up in committing morally wrong actions, his character is still good and well rounded. Willie’s good and bad actions do not allow us to decide whether he is a solely good or solely bad character. Throughout the novel, Willie is often seen as somewhat of a hero to the people. As he takes on his role of governor, he makes all decisions with his people in mind. He has intentions of bettering everyone’s lives. He continually promises to build roads and bridges, and he goes through with these promises. Willie draws people in with his speeches and keeps their votes by continually reminding them that he has never let them down. Although Willie Stark may sound like a top notch person, his strategy to accomplish his goals, flaws his character. To accomplish his intentionally good goals, Willie continually bullies and blackmails people to get to the top. He hires Jack Burden to “dig up dirt” on anybody that he sees as a threat, or an advantage, to his campaign. He is desperate to reveal secrets about people’s pasts, so he can use the secrets to his advantage later. Willie also messes with people’s minds and what they believe in to get his way. For example, at one point in the novel, Willie promises to build the most amazing hospital for all the people. He promises that it will be the best hospital to take care of everybody. He plans to hire Dr. Adam Stanton, one of the best doctors. Adam does not like to be associated with anything that involves Willie because he likes to stay away from corruption. Willie does not let this...
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