Richard Cory – Analysis
The narrator in “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson is a low class working citizen telling the reader, in detail, about a distinguished gentleman named Richard Cory who eventually “put a bullet through his head.” Almost everyone, including the narrator, would stare at him with awe every time they saw him. He was “imperially slim”(4), always charismatic and well-dressed. He was extremely courteous and polite. He would please everyone’s heart with a simple “Good Morning.” Then the narrator soon explains that on “one calm summer night” he executes himself by putting a gun to his head. When I first read the poem, I thought it told the story of a young man and his riches. After about my third or fourth reading, I realized this poem is revealing that no matter how suicidal one gets, he or she should know that his or her life is not at its worse.
The first two lines of the poem are “Whenever Richard Cory went down town,/We people on the pavement looked at him.” After only reading those two lines and not knowing what the poem was about, I thought Richard Cory must be someone very special. When finishing the first stanza, I thought to myself, “Who is this man and why are they so star-strucked by him?” After reading it again, I found that maybe the “people on the pavement” worked for a low salary and rarely saw anybody that looked, dressed, and conducted themselves in a pleasing manner. The bystanders are probably questioning what a man with such taste and an aristocrat would be doing in that part of town.
When I read the second stanza, I could hear his deep smooth voice, “…he fluttered pulses when he said,/Good Morning…” The moment I read “he fluttered pulses” when he talked, I could see young girls giggle, older women getting warm feelings inside, and men being surprised to hear his voice even though they’ve heard it before. When the poem read, “he was always human when he talked,” I did not quite understand. Soon afterward, I realized the author meant Richard Cory was not a conceited or arrogant man; he was a friendly man. I could imagine him being the brightest thing on the street when I comprehended “he glittered when he walked.” I realized that Richard Cory was more than just a rich man.
“…Yes richer than a king,” the third stanza states. At first reading, I thought, “This man must have money growing on trees!” Resulting from another reading, I came to the conclusion that maybe the narrator just couldn’t picture someone having so much money and might have exaggerated to show how much wealthier Richard Cory was than most people. As the people in line 11, I can certainly relate to thinking that a particular person “was everything.”
After finishing line 13, I did not entirely understand what was meant by “the light.” Did it signify daylight or symbolize a rescuer from the life they were living? The final stanza ended by telling the reader how Richard Cory went home one night and shot himself in the head. I found it kind of selfish that Richard Cory–a man who could afford to eat at a fancy restaurant everyday–killed himself while the “people on the pavement” went without meat for days. I would expect the people in the poem to have killed themselves before Richard Cory would even think about picking up a gun.
After reading the poem for the first couple of times, I thought Richard Cory was an affluent man who killed himself because he was unloved. Then I read the poem over and recognized that many factors could have led to his death and there’s no proof he wasn’t loved–in fact, the poem even tells that he was greatly admired. I noticed the people in the poem would have traded lives with him in an instant. I think the overall message is saying don’t give up on life; unfortunately Richard Cory and many others did.