In Robert Penn Warren's novel, All the King's Men, Jack Burden states, " The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing a man can't know. He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him (9)."" Jack's statement reveals that man is enslaved by knowledge. Familiar sayings such as, "Ignorance is bliss,"" and, "what you don't know can't hurt you- also state this point. Examples of knowledge enslaving man are seen in the novel through the characters of Willie Stark, Adam Stanton and Jack Burden. .
Willie Stark is a character that attempts to conquer knowledge, even though in the end, he is overcome by the forces of knowledge. Willie did not want to be a slave to knowledge, but rather, its keeper. Stark uses information about people for blackmail, to achieve his goals. His goals for political offices ranged from Mason County Treasurer to state governor, senator, and most likely thoughts of presidency. And on the way to get to these offices, Stark had to overpower others with dark knowledge, the secrets people keep. Stark says that "man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something (49)."" He is saying that everyone has something to hide, a skeleton in the closet. Stark knows that everyone has some bit of knowledge to hide, and that the knowledge makes man a slave as he tries to hide the bit of knowledge. Stark often wields the power of knowledge to enslave others to do his bidding. He finds the dirt on someone, the secret bit of dark knowledge, and then has them do his bidding. When a certain Byram B. White tried to get rich, Stark had him sign an undated resignation form to hold him in his power. Willie said himself, " Well, I fixed Byram. I fixed him so his unborn great-grandchildren will wet their pants on this anniversary and not know why (136)."" Also, Stark manipulates people with knowledge, telling them what they want to hear.