Richard Cory Essay, Research Paper
The poem “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson, is a poem that shows
that people cannot determine another person s happiness by their appearance. The author
uses the setting, imagery, and symbolism to illustrate this. Robinsons poem is about a rich
man that commits suicide, and the thoughts of the people in town that watch him in his
everyday life. Edwin Robinson clearly shows us in his poem “Richard Cory” that the life of
someone else may not be all what it is cracked up to be. The townspeople looked up to
Richard Cory, they envied him and his lifestyle. However, if they would have looked a
little closer, instead of judging him from his appearance, they would have not wanted to be
just like Richard Cory.
The settings that this author uses makes the readers think that Richard Cory is a
happy man who is greatly admired. Downtown is one of the settings that was used.
Downtown is used as a place where Richard Cory seemed to have gone often because the
people that work there seem to know who he is. The poem talks of him walking
downtown without seeming to have any problems at all. Another setting that the author
used was the pavement. The people who worked downtown on the pavement were the
people that judged him just by the way that he looked. They thought that he was perfect
because he did not appear to have any problems and looked very happy. The last setting
that was used was a calm summer night. This setting makes everything seem so peaceful,
but in reality Richard Cory was killing himself. It is an ironic setting because we think just
the opposite as we are reading the poem.
The author also uses imagery to help illustrate the theme in this poem. The fact
that Richard Cory was viewed as quietly arrayed makes the reader think that he has no
problems and that everyone wants to be like him. Also, the poem states that he is richer
than a king so the audience gets the feeling that this is a happy man who is happy with his
success in life. When on the other hand he wants to kill himself. Moreover, the workers on
the pavement say that he is “schooled in every grace which leads the reader to believe
that he is polite and would not think about doing something so drastic.
Lastly, the author uses symbolism to illustrate his theme. The fact that the workers
were going to wait for the light expresses that they were going to wait until their turn
comes to be perfect and live the good life that they thought Richard Cory was living. This
is a symbol of the poor wishing to be like a person who they view as perfect. Also, the
phrase went without the meat and cursed the bread symbolizes that the workers were
poor and went without meat and they cursed what they did have because they wanted to
be more like Richard Cory. In reality, the workers could not tell by looking at him that he
had problems no body else knew about. That is why Richard Cory went home and put a
bullet through his head. That is a symbol that a person cannot rely on what they see in a
person s appearance.
In conclusion, a person cannot just look at another person and know what kind of
person they are. I think that Robinson was trying to show that appearances may be
deceiving. In life, more than money is required to make a person happy and mentally
healthy. Why does everyone want to be like someone else? It is human nature to want to
be admired and honored. This is not right, though. Each and everyone person should be
happy with who they are because just imagine if everyone were perfect and the same. The
world would be quite boring.