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The Reality Of The American Dream: The Poem Richard Cory By Edwin Arlington Robinson

1286 words - 5 pages

As Americans, many of us believe in this principle of the American Dream. The American Dream, in its simplicity, is the notion that anything, especially career wise, is achievable. We usually associate this concept with obtaining material things, such as cars or a fancy house. But, even if you achieve your American Dream, complete with a car and fancy house, does that really mean you achieved happiness? The poem “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson is a testament to this idea that although someone may have everything there is to want, that does not really mean they have true happiness.
The poem “Richard Cory” is a description and story of a man named Richard Cory, of course. The speaker of the poem is an impoverished, blue-collar worker living in a place called Tilbury Town. Tilbury Town is a small, industrial town created by Robinson that is filled with manual labor workers. The first stanza begins by describing this amazing man, Richard Cory. The speaker of the poem is describing Richard Cory as he is figuratively watching him. You will notice from the beginning that Robinson uses a lot of diction comparing Richard Cory to a king. The speaker says that Richard Cory, “was a gentleman from sole to crown / Clean favored, and imperially slim” (3-4). Although Cory already seems like this superior figure, the speaker allows him to seem more humble at the beginning of the second stanza. The speaker says that, “he was always quietly arrayed / And he was always human when he talked” (5-6). The speaker is saying that Cory presents himself in a very professional manner, yet not too overpowering. Also, by saying that Cory is human when he talked shows that he tried to make people feel as if he was equal to them. The end of the second stanza gives you the idea that Cory is also very handsome, as he can flutter pulses just by saying good morning. Not only is Richard Cory a “king” and remarkably good-looking, the third stanza begins by explaining how wealthy and well-educated Cory is. “And he was rich—yes, richer than a king— / And admirably schooled in every grace” (10-11). The third stanza goes on to explain the speaker’s envy of Cory. Cory’s success made the people, “wish [they] were in his place” (12). The fourth stanza is what really brings the entire poem together. It begins with the speaker’s distress about his own life. The speaker confesses, “So on we worked, and waited for the light / And went without the meat, and cursed the bread” (13-14). As you can see, the speaker despises his own life, which is a complete opposite of Cory’s. The last two lines of the poem are the most important. In a bizarre plot twist, “Richard Cory, one calm summer night / Went home and put a bullet through his head” (15-16). The author concludes the poem here, leaving the reader to decide why Richard Cory would kill himself. That is the question I ask you. Why would this man who has everything, hence the American Dream, go home and commit suicide? The answer is...

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