All The King's Men Willie Stark Character Traits

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All The King’s Men Many readers have and will see Willie Stark as a very ambiguous character from beginning to end in Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. A firm believer in idealism, Willie Stark has become a very strong, sneaky and persuasive politician known as the Boss. The way Willie Stark changes the way he acts and how he treats people is something that can be very tricky for everyone who reads through this novel. At one moment Willie Stark is once a very kind man who treats others with respect and at the next moment he is blackmailing other individuals in order to have an advantage. In many instances Willie has been seen treating people horribly with no remorse and treating other people like they are gods in the next. Throughout…show more content…
Willie believes that everyone in this world has dirt and that it is up to him or the people he hires to find out what that dirt is. Willie may be a very bad human at times but he is not a hypocrite, he also sins and Warren does not hide that from the reader. His most grievous sins involve the way he treats his wife Lucy. The spotlight of attention is too much for the Boss and he uses this to fuel his desires sexually, keeping several mistresses during the course of the novel. Lucy becomes the symbol of innocence and simple, country virtues, as Willie sleeps around with no care for how it might affect his marriage personally. He only sees his actions in the way they will appear in his political life. Whatever he can accomplish under the table is fair game. Appearance is much more important than the reality of Willie’s depraved moral state in the political arena. The scene in which the Boss forces a man named Byram to write a letter of resignation because the man would not fawn to Willie is an excellent example of the way Willie uses people for personal gains. The Boss lambastes the man for trying to move up in the world and argues that he is less than human. The Boss is the Boss because no one can rise to his level in his own eyes. He is not corrupt in that he is drawn to…show more content…
The Willie seen in the first chapters cares about the little people of the state. He is disgusted by the corruption of a schoolhouse deal that resulted in children falling from a poorly constructed fire escape. Even when it is up to Willie to sign a deal for the building of his dream hospital, he refuses to strike a deal that will benefit him in a financial way. He would rather leave a legacy with a hospital run by the best doctor in the state, Adam Stanton. Willie rises in the political standings by promising better education and tax reform in his state. He believes this in his heart, and the crowd can see this as well. While the Boss is constantly involved in digging dirt on his opponents, he refuses to use a lie to bust them. The Boss says that the truth is always enough because there is always something. Is it noble that the Boss only accepts the truth? That is the question that the reader is forced to ask. It may be that the truth is more practical in the long run for Willie’s operations. Because Willie sees the world as a rotten and sinful place, he believes that the good must be shaped from the bad. He is the bad, but maybe he can be an instrument of something good in the end. The Willie Stark Hospital is the embodiment of this idea. It is built out of self-interest and through corrupt dealings, but
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