Essay: All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren and Long Day’s Journey into the Night by Eugene O’Neill

People’s lives change when their habits change. In All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren and Long Day’s Journey into the Night by Eugene O’Neill show how hard it is to be an influential father during unexpected life situations. Willie Stark is portrayed as a politician on his way to the spotlight. Along the way, habits are formed, shaping him into a corrupt governor, neglecting husband, and prideful father. James Tyrone is an alcoholic father who mourns over the disappointment of his two sons. These fathers share the constant struggle of their vices but are different in the relationship they have with their family. (108)
Willie Stark and James Tyrone both share similar personality traits that follow them throughout their life. Both men resource to alcohol as a necessity in their lives. In Long Day’s Journey into the Night, James Tyrone states that it is healthy to have a glass of whiskey every now and then, and even gave his children a spoon of whiskey to cure their nightmares (O’Neill 112-113). This shows the influence alcohol had over him and the addiction he has for it. It also is the source that gave future alcohol problem for his boys. James Tyrone has set an example for the acceptance of alcohol but refuses to admit he is the reason for his son following in his abusive drinking ways. Similarly, in All the King’s Men, Willie Stark uses alcohol as comfort when he was running for Governor and he found out his supporters did not sincerely want him to win. Once he learned the truth, drinking allowed him to reach the voters through his manipulative speeches (Warren 129-138). For Willie, alcohol transformed his personality into someone who accepts intimidation as form of power. Drinking allowed Willie to accomplish his goals as governor by using it as an excuse to blackmail people to run the state. Also, both men show acts of negligence. James Tyron is not aware on how he wastes his money on useless estate instead of using it for medical help for Edmund and Mary. James ignores the fact that Edmund is seriously ill and needs a good doctor and not the same cheap one that allowed Mary to become addicted to morphine (O’Neill 29-31). This shows the defiance he has for change. He likes to believe he knows better than others and is doing it for the benefit of his family but is blind to the harm it is causing. Likewise, Willie ignores that Tom is growing up to become an arrogance man. Tom was the cause of a serious car accident while driving drunk, and Lucy Stark insisted that Willie must do something to manage Tom’s behavior. Willie refused saying, ‘Hell, let him be a man. I never had any fun growing up. Let him have some fun! I want him to have some fun. I used to see people having fun and never had any.’ ‘No boy of mine’s going to be a sissy, now. That’s what you want!’ (Warren 344-345) Willie is living his dreams through his sons. He wants Tom to live his life with courage and never show a sign of weakness. This discipline free life and negligence to control Tom brings him into life threatening situations that affect others around him. Both James Tyrone and Willie Stark cannot take control of situation when necessary and eventually affects themselves and their loved ones. (457)
James Tyron and Willie Stark both are similar in their reactions. Both men are quick to resort to anger or yelling when it come to them being accused of something or a situation not following their way. When James older son Jamie mentions his younger brother, Edmund’s bad health to his worried mother, James Tyrone gets upset and accuses Jamie that he is to blame for Edmund dying. Edmund grew up aspiring to be like Jamie and always followed him in his footsteps. Out of anger James Tyrone says Jamie’s constant drinking and sleeping with women set the worst influence for Edmund and is responsible for his illness (O’Neill 34-35). Even though James Tyrone knows Edmunds illness is from his own stubbornness and refusal to listen to advice, he was quick to put the liability on Jamie. James Tyron’s already disappointment of Jamie made it easy to target him for Edmunds illness. Consistently, Willie Stark also acts in anger when Tiny Duffy tried to unexpectedly bring Gummy Larson into his office to convince him to sell the contract for the hospital. Willie threatens to fire Tiny Duffy but decides to keep him and have him be scared to make a mistake like that again (Warren 347-348). This shows Willies stubbornness when presented with advice or situations that he does not want to accept. Willes quick to anger attitude shows he lacks control of his emotions. Both James Tyron and Willie Stark have unexpected situations in their life and their families life, but their response to these situations show their anger and ignorance to controlling these behaviors. (263)
Although both James Tyron and Willie Stark are the men of their own household, they each differ in the relationship they have with their family. James Tyron is not concerned where his boys are when they come home drunk at 2 o’clock in the morning. He is more concerned about them wasting electricity by turning the light on when they come home at night (O’Neill 127-128). This shows that James Tyrone has given up on maintaining his sons’ actions and attitudes. James Tyrone rather manage his money spending than try to get his kids to change their drunken ways. He focuses on the important things in his life that he knows he can control. He doesn’t bother taking the time to share his advice to the ones that will not listen. In contrast, Willie Stark is always concerned about his son, Tom. When Tom was accused of being the father of Sibyle Frey’s unborn child, Willie fights for the innocence of his son, knowing the accusation is true (Warren 496-497). Willie’s love for Tom in shown by still helping Tom through the confusion and shock. Willie had to put aside his disappointment for his son to figure out a plan of negotiation to fight for Tom’s innocence. Both men also differ in their devotion to their wives. James Tyron has always been there for Mary whenever she has times of weakness and relapse to her addiction of Morphine (O’Neill 96-97). He shows his constant love for her by his encouraging words to assure her of her beauty when she is self-conscious of her looks. Mary’s addiction has put him in a confusing and hard position. By him staying with here through her battles of addiction shows the strength of James Tyron. However, Willie Stark did not stay devoted to his wife throughout his challenging times in his life. Through the elections, contacts of new buildings, and blackmailing, Willie had several affairs on his wife (Warren 119-120). Willie gave into his temptation for the attraction of the voters. A man who could hold many women for himself other than his wife was seen as a wise and someone who could take control as a man. The two men differ in their amount of concern and devotion for their family. (370)
Despite their complete difference in relationships with their family, these two fathers show their similarities in their individual characters and the way they respond to certain situations. James Tyrone’s alcoholic ways distracted him from what he needed to do to better the lives of his family. Willie stark was a hardworking politician who negotiated and blackmailed his way to fame as Governor. They are both truly responsible for the way their lives turned out and what they did and did not do to maintain a stable life for them and their family. Throughout life, choices people make do matter because they become the basis for bigger decisions later on. (109)

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