Richard Cory, by Edward Arlington Robinson
The diction of Edward Arlington Robinson's poem, "Richard Cory" is very carefully controlled. The speaker is anonymous and the reader's sense of who the speaker is, comes entirely from whatever can gathered from the manner in which he talks about Richard Cory. Robinson uses normal word order and sentence structure. The exception to this is the fact that each stanza is a single sentence -- this makes the sentences long and complex. The narrator also talks in a very normal tone. His diction is, mainly, informal, as if it was one ordinary person addressing another person he knew. The tone is conversational and yet it does more than just convey information. This is because of the breaks in his informal diction that hint at something else. For example, no one would use terms like "imperially slim" or "cleanly favored" in normal conversation. While the choice of words serves specific purposes, the change in diction also has a purpose. If Robinson merely wanted to give people's awestruck response to Richard Cory, then he could have had the narrator speak this way throughout the poem. Instead, he breaks off his informal speech with the insertion of such expressions. The constant repetition of "and" as he lists the aspects of Richard Cory makes the sentences sound excited and rushed. But, it also makes them sound clumsy -- as if the writer was only used to writing the simplest style. But, the diction gets even grander. It sounds almo

 
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