Analysis of Richard Cory

Length: 4 Pages 888 Words

In both Edwin Arlington Robinson and Paul Simon’s versions of the poem “Richard Cory” the author investigates the supposedly anonymous surfaces of life in a peculiar and rather cryptic manner. These men both describe through the use of one man, Richard Cory, and his experiences to view the contrast between those surfaces and the torture and torment that could lie beneath them. There is an equal premise in both poems; a wealthy man who is idolized and envied by those who consider themselves less fortunate, commits suicide. Although there are many comparisons between the two poems, there are slight differences in tone, meter, and the overall character of Richard Cory. In Robinson’s poem, Richard Cory is described as a true gentleman, who was “quietly arrayed” and “always human when he talked.” He never publicly displayed his wealth and believed even the poorest man deserved his politeness and respect. Robinson’s word choice to describe Richard Cory such as the use of the phrases “sole to crown” and “imperially slim” categorizes and abandons Cory in an elevated class he loathed being associated with. Thus, Cory is seen as a regal figure that is unwillingly cast apart, torn away from society and hi Continue...


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The speaker in this poem possibly did not care about who Cory really was; he just idolizes Cory's ability to do whatever he wants because he has money. The last two stanzas of this poem are what make this poem unique. He is described like a politician; he owned "one-half of this whole town and had "political connections to spread his wealth around. Cory, with all of his wealth and glittering status, did not. As Richard Cory is dethroned by his own demise, the virtue of the people is elevated. Neither poet used the usual lyrical, poetic way of self-expression that is used in most poetry. While Robinson's Richard Cory was "a gentleman from sole to crown, there are astonishing rumors about Simon's Cory's parties and "the orgies on his yacht. In both poems, the very thing that served to give Cory status also reveal their inner emptiness that led him to take his own life. This is most likely due to the time period in which Paul Simon wrote these lyrics. Nowhere does the speaker give direct evidence of Richard Cory's real character. Ironically however, Cory's suicide brings about a full-circle moral role reversal between himself and the townspeople. This "system consisted basically of government but also encompassed going against what they considered to be antiquated, organized religious beliefs. Belief in the light is one thing that the people had that Corey lacked. The common liberal viewpoint of songwriter's in the 1960's was "going against the system.