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Richard Essay, Research Paper
Richard Unhappy Cory
The analysis of:
Whenever Richard Cory went down town, A
We People on the pavement looked at him: B
He was a gentleman from sole to crown, A
Clean favored, and imperially slim. B
And he was always quietly arrayed, C
And he was always human when he talked; D
But still he fluttered pulses when he said, C
Good-morning, and he glittered when he walked. D
And he was rich yes, richer than a king- E
And admirably schooled in every grace: F
In fine, we thought that he was everything E
To make us wish that we were in his place. F
So on we worked, and waited for the light, G
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; H
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, G
Went home and put a bullet through his head. H
Edward Arlington Robinson s poem Richard Cory is an ironic story on the old saying that money cannot buy happiness. The poem is a portrait of a rich man s walk down a poor man s street. The poem s speaker is a representative figure, standing in for all the poor workers who assume that Richard Cory is somehow different from normal human beings and inevitably happier just because he is extraordinary wealthy. By presenting this poem in a songlike sequence, the speaker gives the impression that he is distressed by this occurrence.
From the very beginning, Robinson uses connotations to present Richard Cory as an isolated figure, not just separated from all others, but gaped at by them as if he were a spectacle or, perhaps, a divine being to be stared at and held in awe:
1 Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
2 We people on the pavement looked at him
We people clearly does not include Richard Cory. The diction associated with Cory further emphasizes his uniqueness. The word crown is used to refer to his head, and his slimness is described as imperial. He is obviously thought of as royalty, especially in terms of the worshipful attitude that the common people fell toward him. Robinson uses a repeated rhyme scheme where every other line in the stanza has an end rhyme. There is one repetition of sound between the second stanza and the last stanza (said, bread, head). This repetition makes this poem seem songlike, creating a rhythm that appears dramatic and full of meaning.
So convinced are they that Richard Cory is different from other human beings, they are actually surprised that he dresses quietly and is always human when he talks. They feel he has a right to attire himself more glamorously, and that by speaking as if he were human he is, in a sense, slumming, lowering himself to their level. But the common people are never fooled. When their king walks among them, however quietly he dresses, however humanly he speaks, they see right through his gracious humbleness. The thought that Cory lowered himself so as to not stick out like a sore thumb. A simple Good-morning from his lips fluttered their pulses, and although his clothes are understated, the man himself casts an aura of glory, he glittered when he walked (8). This idle-like representation that Richard Cory appears to have on spectators can be exemplified by looking at the sound of the poem. Again, the use of end rhymes is a smooth, pleasurable, and natural sound. If the writer was angry and agitated, he might have chose to use enjambed lines rather then end-stopped. Where the lines end, there is a cleverly positioned pause forcing one to ponder the line s meaning before proceeding to the next. An example of this is line six. The thought of a man trying to be human is left in the mind until resuming the reading further.
In the third stanza the speaker hints that the view of Richard Cory held by the common people was not quite accurate. When he says we thought that he was everything , he is obviously suggesting that they thought wrong, and that by extension, their wish to be in his place (12) was foolish. This simply represents the people s thoughts of envy, before the realization that he was just as unhappy as regular folks.
For whatever else Richard Cory was, he was not happy. On a calm summer night, when this wealthy man with no apparent problems in his life could not have even the weather to blame for depression, Richard Cory / Went home and put a bullet through his head (15-16). The shock of this final line is partly the consequence of the expectations built up throughout the poem. Despite that shadowy hint in we thought, the poem as a whole lures us into viewing Richard Cory in much the same way that the townspeople viewed him. By the end of the fourth stanza we too have succumbed to the man s glamour and are convinced of his specialness. We sympathize with and identify with the common man represented by the character, for like him we are merely human and must struggle against the difficulty of ordinary existence. How we envy the Richard Cory s of the world. Compared to our suffering, we think, what problems could a man like Richard Cory possibly have?
The ironic shock of Richard Cory s sudden violent suicide forces us (as it forced the townspeople) to reevaluate not only what we thought we knew about the man we envied, but also what we thought we knew about our own lives and about the nature of suffering. And through this particular thought, Robinson clearly lays this distressing image into his poem, Richard Cory.
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