Richard Cory, by Edwin Arlington Robinson

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Paraphrase: A man named Richard Cory appeared to have it all: looks, a suave persona and a respectable social status. These qualities were respected and admired by the townspeople, even envied to a small degree. Despite his apparent perfect life, Richard Cory shot and killed himself.

Purpose: The purpose of this poem is to show that people are not always who they appear to be. Moreover, the people that seem to have it all may still be emotionally unstable and act irrationally such as committing suicide.

Structure: There are 4 stanzas, each serves to reveal a different piece of information (1st stanza: town’s consensus about Richard Cory, 2nd stanza: personality, 3rd stanza: social status, 4th status: the abrupt, unforeseen ending of his life).

Speaker: There is one speaker and the POV is third person.

Shift: The shift in this poem occurs at the second to last line. Before this, the poem revolves around the, what seems to be, ideal life of Richard Cory. But at this line the poem ends abruptly with an unexpected suicide, stated as an understatement.

Syntax/Grammar/Diction: There is repetition of “always” in relation to how the townspeople describe him. This means that Richard Cory’s public appearances were routine and unchanging maybe even a false facade. The use of the colon to connect two full sentences serves to associate ideas. The diction of “imperially slim” (4), “glittered” (8), “fluttered” (7) and “admirably schooled” (11) all indicate Richard Cory’s apparent superiority over the rest of the townspeople.

Tone: The tone before the shift is admiring with a small hint of envy. The tone after the shift is rather indifferent, there is no diction indicating remorse or any other emotion over his death.

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