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Irony in All King’s Mens

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    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 Scholarl.

    These ironic flaws contribute to their sufferings throughout the novel. The flaws of Willie Stark, Adam Stanton and Judge Irwin led to the ultimate punishment, death, and Jack Burden’s flaws led to temporarily losing his love, Anne Stanton.

    Works Cited

    1. Baker, Joseph E. “Irony in Fiction: ‘All the King’s Men.’” College English. Vol. 9. JSTOR. Web. 06 Dec. 2011.
    2. Bloom, Harold. “’The Case of the Upright Judge’: The Nature of Truth in All the King’s Men.”
    3. Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men.” Questia School. Web. 06 Dec. 2011.
    4. Martin, Glenn. “Diction in Warren’s ‘All the King’s Men.’” The English Journal. Vol. 58. JSTOR. Web. 06 Dec. 2011.
    5. Warren, Robert Penn. All the King’s Men. Orlando: Harcourt Inc., 1996.
    6. Wright, Andrew H. “Irony and Fiction.” The Journal of Aestetics and Art Criticism.Vol.12. JSTOR. Web. 06 Dec. 2011.

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