Irony In Richard Cory Essay

1077 words - 4 pages

Richard Cory was written in 1897 by Edwin Arlington Robinson. This sixteen line poem tells a lot about human irony. Richard Cory, a very wealthy man, admired and envied by those who consider themselves less fortunate than he, unexpectedly commits suicide. The most fascinating part of this poem is the reason why he shot himself when he had everything? Through their own mental prejudices and exaggerations of reality, the people, by putting Cory on a higher level than them, also created a communication barrier that later pushed Richard to commit suicide.
In the poem we only know Richard Cory by what the people see and think about him. His feelings, other than when he commits suicide, are never truly stated. Throughout the poem the only thing we learn about Richard Cory are the images that the everyday people have of a man who is seen almost as a king. In the second line of the poem, the villagers express that they feel inferior to Cory when they say “We people on the pavement looked at him” (2). The people referring to themselves as “people on the pavement” might be inferring that the people are homeless; in their opinion Richard Cory is seen as a king “He was a gentleman from sole to crown” (3). and they are just his admiring subjects. Even the name Richard Cory is and allusion to Richard Coeur-de-lion, or King Richard 1 of England. Then, the public goes on to describe Richard as a true gentleman, “And he was always quietly arrayed,/ And he was always human when he talked” (5-6). These lines show that the public think that Richard Cory never truly came off as very wealthy because he believed that even the poorest person deserved politeness and respect. The word “always” in lines five and six could suggest that the townspeople believe that the external features of Cory are the traits and emotions he carries on the inside. Likewise, the hero of this story unconsciously strengthens the false ideas when Richard Cory says “good-morning”. It is clear that the public envy Richard Cory’s Life and the way he presents himself. They view Richard as someone who is “And admirably schooled in every grace” (10). When skimming over this poem, stanzas one through three show the people’s willingness to idolize and honor a man they truly do not know, this act of idolizing Richard Cory reflects their need for having the “perfect life”. The public admires Richard Cory’s life, and wish they could be just like him, but then reality hits and they realize that they can never be like him, and they are just stuck being the common man.
A deeper look at this poem shows why the people can’t see their own chance of having a non-material values such as a good surrounding, which Richard Cory lacks. In this poem, the collective “we” speaks as a whole. There is a difference between the “we” and Richard Cory when the “we” as a whole is many people compared to Richard Cory who is alone. In being difference, the people: “Worked and waited for the light/ And went...

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