Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
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.
And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
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;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
The Circle of Life and Ritual as Themes in Literature

Circles as Symbols and Themes in Literature

In the above post, [click on the link to read the entire post], I began examining circularity and repetition in life. In Richard Cory, we see that Richard Cory’s life was at least somewhat ritualistic:

“And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;”
While the circularity worked out well for The Lion King, however, it did not serve Richard Cory quite that well. The routine and ritualistic behavior of Richard Cory’s existence must have become painfully burdensome–an existence that he could no longer endure. Richard Cory’s Life became a ritualistic nightmare
Considerations for Critical Thinking and Writing from Meyer & Miller, The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, pg, 608.
“Richard Cory seems to have it all. Those less fortunate, the ‘people on the pavement,’ regard him as well-bred, handsome, tasteful, and richly endowed with both money and grace. Until the final line of the poem, the reader, lie the speaker, is charmed by Cory’s good fortune, so quietly expressed in his decent, easy manner. That final, shocking line, however, shatters.
Routines, rituals, and the circles of life are dominant themes in literature. In the Looking at Lit Book Club, we’ll return to that theme over and over and over again.