4 October 2014
In the Eyes of the Beholder
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” (Lee 36) This is a quote from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which I believe illustrates the overall meaning behind Robinson’s words in his poem “Richard Cory”. Richard Cory is the man who everyone is talking about, we only know him by others judgments. Just like the quote says, the people judging Richard Cory will never really understand him or his decisions unless they are him. To show the main concept behind his writing Robinson uses the tone, imagery and rhyme scheme to his advantage from the beginning of the poem up until its tragic ending.
The overall tone and theme of the poem is very ironic. Robinson indulges in the use or irony throughout the poem to show the extremes between what people think about Richard Cory and what is actually true. It all begins in a happy tone, as the townspeople are describing Richard Cory and his overall greatness. “And he was always quietly arrayed, And he was always human when he talked; But still he fluttered pulses when he said, 'Good-morning,' and he glittered when he walked.” (Gardner 534) This quote from the poem is explaining the way Richard Cory had an impact on people just by saying hello. When reading this it is implied that Richard Cory is of a higher class than those who are judging him. From happiness the tone takes a quick turn into envy. “In fine, we thought that he was everything To make us wish that we were in his place So on we worked, and waited for the light, And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;” (Gardner 534) Evidently the townspeople that are talking about Richard Cory are not of a high class as he is. They are poor and wish they were living the “great” life that he seems to be enjoying. While wishing they were in his place life went on and they had to keep working hard in order to survive and have something to eat. What they didn’t know was that even with all that Richard Cory had he was not happy. At this point in the poem it is when Robinson drastically changes the tone into a depressing yet shocking tone. “And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, Went home and put a bullet through his head.” (Gardner 534) These last two lines are what brings the poem to a closing, with Richard Cory ending his life. Ironically in the beginning Richard Cory was the one who had everything put together in his life. Unfortunately he was not happy with just the materialistic things he possessed, because he was lonely. Although the townspeople thought he was happy on the outside they were judging him without knowing what was going on in the inside. “Depressingly lonely, he ended his friendless life, The poem’s reader is supposed to understand what the townspeople did not understand about Richard’s suicide: that there was a price, in a human rather than in a monetary sense, that he paid for being perceived to be “richer than a king.” (Scheick, William J.) Just like Richard Cory, his story can be compared to today’s society. Celebrities are always in the public eye, there are always people judging them, and not everybody loves them. They are loved, hated, and mostly envied by those who do not what they do. They may seem to have it all together, the perfect social status, their overall appealing appearance, and most importantly their money. These are all things that people in society may think they need to achieve in order to live a long happy life. Ironically many of the people who have acquired these materialistic things along with Richard Cory, are not happy. Since money can only buy you a temporary happiness these people don’t see a reason to live an unhappy, lonely, scrutinized life. For that reason they believe ending their lives is the only solution.
In order for the reader to visualize Richard Cory, Robinson describes him in a very