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Richard Cory: The Moral

Uploaded by jdewitt70 on Dec 21, 2001

In a society generally shaped by its commercialism, many people will fall into the unfortunate trap of trying to exceed someone else’s standards. The catalyst for this maddening condition exists all around us: in car commercials, on bumper stickers (“He who dies with the most toys wins!”), in stores peddling expensive passing fashions, and on billboards flaunting houses of ridiculous size and cost. Children are conditioned to covet a brass ring that is impossible to attain, and will either spend a lifetime sacrificing personal happiness to conquer a status, or will simply give up rather than face certain failure. No matter what amount of drive and desire one possess, it never fails that there is always someone who has achieved so much more. On the surface they seem to have it all, and in our admiration, we are often riddled with desperate jealousy. Edwin Arlington Robinson exemplified this condition masterfully in his poem Richard Cory.

The speaker of the poem is someone in a low working class, but he is speaking for everyone in his community who seems to be of equal financial stature. They toil away at work that is both dirty and grueling, and at the end of the day there is very little to show for it. They are hungry- not only for food, but also for comfort. Robinson himself lived in poverty, and was almost certainly familiar with the feeling of envy that this character reveals in the poem. But are the poor in fact at the bottom of the emotional heap? Perhaps a closer look into each line of the text will demonstrate that things aren’t always as they seem.

The first stanza of the poem gives the reader a glimpse into what Richard Cory is all about, or at least how he is perceived. In the first two lines we are introduced to the poem’s namesake, Richard Cory, and we know that he is someone that people take notice of. Line three states that “He was a gentleman from sole to crown,” which tells us that he was a man of good breeding, from top to bottom. Here Robinson uses the word ‘crown’ for his head, but perhaps this is also as a symbol of royalty; someone who is above the rest. In the fourth line Robinson uses the word “imperially” to...

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Uploaded by:   jdewitt70

Date:   12/21/2001

Category:   Poetry

Length:   4 pages (935 words)

Views:   1813

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