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Richard Cory

Edwin Arlington writes poems that leave people in shock, awe, and admiration! In one of his poems “Richard Cory” he does an amazing job at showing the isolation in this young gentleman’s life. This poem is filled with a sense of awe, irony, and presents great imagery; starting from when everyone is admiring the king-like figure, to the discovery of his isolation, and ending with his sudden suicide.


“He was a gentleman from sole to crown. Clean favored, and imperially slim.” (Arlington Lines 3-4) Throughout this poem Arlington does an amazing job at showing the admiration in the towns people towards Richard Cory. In this quote they describe him as ‘a gentleman from sole to crown’ and ‘imperially slim’. “But he still fluttered pulses when he said, ‘Good Morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.” (Arlington Lines 7-8)
By fluttering pulses Arlington means that he makes girls’ hearts race when he smiles and says good morning. Obviously he’s a very good-looking fellow and is extremely admired. And he glitters when he walks, obviously not literally but in a symbolic sense of glowing with greatness. “ And he was rich-yes, richer that a king- and admirably schooled in every grace; in fine, we thought he was everything. To make us wish that we were in his place.” (Arlington Lines 9-12” He was richer than a king, and schooled in every grace. When thinking about someone who is well schooled, people tend to think of those who go to private schools where uniforms are required and education is a high priority. However, when people think of private school they think boo coo bucks! Especially back then.

After the first initial read of this poem the depth of his loneliness isn’t really noticed and his suicide in the end is shocking. The second read through and it’s hard to it’s actually hard to miss. “WE people on the pavement looked at HIM.” (Arlington Line 2) The word choice in this poem with all of the ‘hes’, ‘hims’, ‘us’, and ‘ours’ really shows the division between these two classes. However, we can tell that Richard Cory tries to fit in and be as average as the town’s people. “And HE was always human when HE talked;” (Arlington Line 6) “In fine WE thought HE was everything. To make US wish that WE were in HIS place.” (Arlington Line 11-12) What caused such isolation between gentleman and this town?

“And Richard Cory, one clam summer night, went home and put a bullet through his head.” (Arlington Line 15-16) This ending is such a shock. Throughout the poem it isn’t expected that Richard Cory would go home and shoot himself at the end of the day. In all honesty he’s admired and adored, wouldn’t most people just suck all that up and puff out on ego? Then fill the holes in their life with money and inanimate objects? But not Richard Cory, he felt the depth of separation and couldn’t deal with it. So ‘one calm summer night, he went home and put a bullet through his head.’




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