All The King’s Men

6 June 2016

The novel under consideration goes by the name of “All the King’s Men”, which was written by Robert Penn Warren and was published in the year 1946. The novel has been used as the basis for a film in 1949 and again in 2006. The title of the novel has been taken from a line in the popular nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. Pulitzer Prize was awarded to the author of the book All the King’s Men.

Through his book, the author puts forward the narrative of Willie Stark, a southern-fried politician who made attempts to gain support by appealing to the common citizens and for this he played dirty politics with the best of the back-room deal-makers. Despite the fact that Stark promptly sheds his unhelpfulness, his right-hand man, Jack Burden who recounts the story, keeps hold of it and proves to be a prickle in the side of the new governor.

All The King’s Men Essay Example

Stark eventually turns into a triumphant leader, but at a very high price, one that in due course costs him his life. All the King’s Men is a play of politics, society and personal affairs, which have all been presented with reference to a political background.


The popularity of All the King’s Men in the American literary canon was guaranteed when the work won Robert Penn Warren a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in the year 1947. The book gained popularity as soon as it was published, and it also turned out to receive a critically-acclaimed film adaptation paying much attention to the life of Willie Stark and was released in 1949, receiving several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Later on, a second Hollywood film adaptation sets the events in the 1950s and focuses much more on the tribulations of Jack Burden.

But, all facts set aside, All the King’s Men, is a novel based upon the profession of the Louisiana demagogue, Huey Long. Huey Long remains to be perhaps one of the most noteworthy, yet misapprehended political figures in American history. It has been nearly seventy years or so after his assassination at age 42 and still the story of Louisiana’s legendary governor, U.S. Senator, and favorite son remains more parable than fact.

First published in 1946, the novel seems to be directly influenced by Robert Penn Warren’s firsthand experiences with totalitarianism in Benito Mussolini’s Italy and radical populism in governor Huey P. Long’s Louisiana. Warren gained in-depth information about the stark political upheaval of Huey Long when he began teaching at Louisiana State University in 1934, in the middle of the Great Depression.

On a very central level, Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men can be acknowledged as a novel which has made an attempt to portray real life human beings as fictional characters. Readers acknowledged the novel’s demagogic southern governor, Willie Stark, as comparable to Huey P. Long, also known as “the Kingfish,” previous governor of Louisiana and that state’s U. S. senator in the mid-1930s.

Jack Burden, right-hand man to Governor Stark, recounts the novel, relating the undulation of his person in charge. Willie starts as an unrealistic young lawyer, dedicated to serving Jack but develops into a politician whose power pivots on the frequent shady deals he makes to accomplish his vision of what the government should be doing.

The novel begins with Willie becoming a perceptible politician after he presages a number of people that a school building was going to fall down. Nobody seems to believe his word until the day that the building does collapse and kills about three children. After this, the people encourage and choose him to run for governor but he does not realize that he is being used as merely a dummy candidate to break up the vote.

After he gets to know the truth, he tells the pastoral people that the government considers them to be as mere “dummies” after which he gives up on the run. He ultimately runs for governor and wins a few years later and wins. Jack in turn becomes very involved in Willie after covering Willie when Jack was a correspondent and sooner or later Jack becomes Willies right hand man. Along with being Willies right hand man Jack makes use of nearly all his skills in order to find out, every single information about all of Willies enemies.

In conjunction with this the book also pays much attention to Willie becoming more fraudulent as soon as he gains power over the people. In the book, the role played by Jack has turned out to be somewhat as the moral compass in the story. It is portrayed in the book that even though Willie along with his power turns into being more and more corrupt, Jack keeps a sturdy path of working towards bringing about good for the poor.

What is more is that we see how Jack works toward marrying his childhood sweetheart Anne. Eventually, in the final chapter of the novel we come to read that Willie is murdered after all the political sleaze gets the better of him and the doctor of a under funded hospital murders him. As is known to all Huey Long was also assassinated but only after he went to the senate.

Basically in the book, the character that portrays the life of Huey P. Long “the Kingfish” is Willie Stark. His character seems to have been inspired by him. Willie Stark, who has usually been referred to in the book as “the Boss”, goes through a swift transformation from being an optimistic lawyer and weak gubernatorial contender into a fascinating and astonishingly authoritative governor. In accomplishing this office Stark comes down to grasp an assortment of forms of dishonesty and builds a gargantuan political machine based on benefaction and terrorization.

His Machiavellian approach to politics then brings about for him a vast number of enemies in the state legislature, but does not detract from his well-liked appeal among many of his constituents, who respond with eagerness to his sweltering populist manner.

In short we can say that, Robert Penn Warren was one of the most exceptional writers of the twentieth century. He was the Poet Laureate of the United States and won certain Pulitzer Prizes. Throughout his life he wrote a vast number of dramas as well as novels in which he deals with many concerns of political power and ethical corruption for that authority. All the King’s Men was first a drama, in which the character Warren tried to use the ideas of Louisiana politician Huey long.

After not being content with this piece of work he convoluted his drama into a novel called All the King’s Men. All the King’s Men presents to us information about the lives of southern governor Willie Stark and his right hand man Jack Burden as they live all the way through the depression (1930’s) in an southern State that remains unknown throughout the book. What is interesting is that even though it is really obvious, numerous generations of readers can bear out that, the book All the King’s Men goes way beyond being merely a political or historical novel. It is believed by many that the author has merely presented to us a story of two parallel characters.

They believe that Jack’s story is analogous with Willie’s; he is a young man besieged to comprehend who he is and what he believes in. His and Willie’s individual transformations rise above the meager retelling of a political tragedy.


In the light of the above discussion we can hereby culminate that All the King’s Men is a well-known novel written by Robert Penn Warren and was published in the year 1946. The novel is somehow linked with the life of Huey P. Long and the character Willie Stark portrays him. As an uncompromising political novel, All the King’s Men puts forward the goods.

The character, Willie formed by the author develops enormously convincingly from a pathetically inexperienced idealist to a cold-blooded politician who has persuaded himself that the political ends give good reason for the brutal means.  But further than this, the novel under consideration is a thoughtful meditation on the restrictions of supremacy and the nature of our understanding of the world.

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All The King’s Men. (2016, Jun 05). Retrieved October 22, 2021, from
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