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The major theme of the novel is that ‘power corrupts those who wield it.’ Power corrupts Willie Stark and makes him a callous and arrogant person. Byram White starts indulging in corrupt practices when he becomes the auditor of the Boss. Judge Irwin tarnishes his image by indulging in a corrupt practice in the past.
The minor Themes of the novel are ‘the role of history in Individual lives’ and ‘the cause and effect of one’s actions.’ Jack Burden is an ardent student of history and hence, is able to probe into the lives of others easily. In the process, he not only understands the lives of others but his own.
The other theme that ‘one’s actions affect others’ is true in the case of most of the characters of the novel. The action of most of the major characters in the novel cast its shadows on the lives of those who are related to them.
The mood of the novel is serious as it traces the life of Willie Stark, the politician and exposes the intrigues involved in the game of politics. However, Warren treats the subject in a light- hearted manner to relieve it from the gloom of despair. Thus the novel evolves into a tragic-comedy.