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Richard Cory, by Edward Arlington Robinson

The effect of the diction that shifts from informal to formal and the images that are, essentially, blanks to be filled in, is that Richard Cory is completely separate and distant from the people, the narrator, and the reader. The familiar tone of the speaker, however, builds up an alliance between narrator and reader. Soon, the reader assumes the truth of what the speaker says and the ending comes as a jolt because the reader would not have guessed this conclusion to Richard Cory's life.

Edward Arlington Robinson faced a changing world "in which the refinements and nobilities of the past [were] broken and discarded", and he sought "the whys and wherefores" of these changes "all his life" (Coffin 108). In Richard Cory, Robinson appears to present Cory's story as a mystery. A careful reading of the poem shows, however, that Robinson is actually interested in exposing the reasons behind Cory's death. On first reading the poem, Cory's suicide might leave the reader convinced that the death was also a mystery to the narrator as well. No specifics of Cory's story are provided to inform about his particular circumstances. Before a second reading, the reader might recall that there were many specific details given in the poem. But, these details turn out to be empty description. Empty, that is, as far as specifics go. Rather than telling the reader very much about Cory, they tell about the narrator's perception of Cory. Everything we know about Richard Cory in the first three stanzas is based on observation. The terms used in the description are not simple adjectives. They are evaluative and judgmental terms. What the poem provides are the basics of Cory's action in appearing in the street and walking by, and the narrator's evaluation of Cory's manner and appearance. In the last stanza, Cory disappears in the first two lines, and then, the narrator's report switches from personal observation and evaluation to hearsay. As o...

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Richard Cory, by Edward Arlington Robinson. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:58, September 21, 2017, from
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