Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Richard Cory,” is a narrative poem about a elegantman who appears to be the desire of the people having wealth and stature butthen, unbeknownst to these people, he commits suicide. Robinson’s poem displaysa covetous mindset through an overworked middle class struggling to make abetter life yet they lack contentment within themselves through their covetousview of Richard Cory. In addition, the narrator speaks of Richard Cory’s abruptsuicide to remind others their situation is not as hopeless as it seems. In hispoem, Robinson’s use of the narrator’s expression, sociological view, andmetaphor portray the theme of how people cannot see the needs of others becausethey are blinded by their own covetous desires. Throughout the poem,the narrator’s expression presents a hopeless view developed by the people incomparison to the man they covet after, whom eventually commits suicide. Thenarrator expresses the view of the people by saying, “we people on thepavement looked at him” (35); thus giving the impression that Richard Cory isgrander than he really is. Robinson’s reference to “pavement” adds to the diminishedvalue the people have of themselves and further blinds them to see the needs ofa man who desires more than a superficial relationship.
Additionally, as thepeople “looked at him” (35), it gives the impression they look at Richard Corywith contempt instead of understanding him or welcoming him in a friendlymanner; further demonstrating the misguided, sociological view the peopledeveloped through covetousness. Robinson develops a sociological view through the narratorby distinguishing the economic inequalities between the people and RichardCory. This view is expressed as thenarrator indignantly states, “and went without the meat, and cursed thebread” (35) because the people grumbled about their conditions to barely affordthe basics (bread) while Richard Cory enjoyed all the fancies (meat) of life.Their dissatisfaction was shown as they “cursed” what they had which fosteredtheir covetous mindset as their conditions appeared to remain status quo. Theirunfortunate view prevents them from finding hope in their situation, in whichRobinson’s use of metaphor demonstrates the coveted desire the people soughtafter in a better life. Finally, Robinson employsmetaphor by demonstrating how the people slogged through their mundane lives asthe narrator explains, “so on we worked, and waited for the light” (35). Here,Robinson equates “light” to a better life as if it would never come through alltheir toils.
In their best efforts, it would seem the people are either lazy orcomplete the bare minimum as they do not appear to go beyond that to receive apromotion or higher wages. Furthermore, these attributes contribute to thecoveted mindset and possibly reduced the ability for people to establish abetter relationship with Richard Cory. Ultimately, the people’s covetousmentality blinded them until the suicide of Richard Cory, which allowed them tofind hope in their situation. In conclusion,Richard Cory’s suicide could have been prevented had the people not beenblinded by their own covetous desires. Robinson’s use of words demonstrates howthe people became blinded to the needs of others, over a period of time, bycoveting what they did not have instead of learning contentment. Furthermore,Robinson reveals a self-centered, apathetic society who appear hopeless intheir toils to achieve the better life as the one lived by Richard Cory.