The Literary Analysis Of Imagery In Richard Cory

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

The thesaurus defines literary analysis as a written evaluation of a piece of literature. A literary analysis identifies several languages of literature in order to recognize important events and identify key points in written work. Readers analyze pieces of literature to identify where a change in mindset takes place which reveals an author’s standpoint on a certain topic or issue. Identifying where an author stands on an issue can uncover a universal message that is ageless. The message in a piece of literary work will never be affected by time nor will it change in any fashion. With consideration of these ideals, the poem of Richard Cory tells a tale of a man named Richard Cory, who is noticeably wealthy, seemingly well educated, and gracious. He is admired by the people of a small town. Despite being glorified for his character and blessings, he commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. Looking into this poem, a reader can identify the theme as never judging a subject or situation by external features, as it may lead to an unexpected outcome. But how does the author go about conveying this message? What literary elements does he use to traject the message on to the reader? In this tale specifically, the author uses point of view, irony, and symbolism to convey this message. The tale of Richard Cory is told from the point of view of civilians in a small town that is in a state of poverty. This detail is important because the tale is being told from the perspective of people whose attention is focused on Cory solely because of an external view. They have had no relations with him nor have any of them had any personal exchanges with him. They just know that he came into their town acquiring fancy customs, which was unfamiliar to them. So, instinctively they marvel at his presence and throughout the story up until the end, they envy him. 

His reality and lifestyle are very different from theirs. He had inherited riches and was also educated. They described him as “schooled in every grace” and referred to him as “richer than a king.” He carried himself in a high manner, but he still was courtly, which intrigued the townspeople. They portrayed him as “a gentleman from sole to crown” and also “human when he talked”. These characteristics alone led the townspeople to believe Richard Cory essentially had the perfect life. However, they realized their previous assumption was flawed, as when they learn despite all these apparent blessings, Richard Cory commits suicide. Using the literary element of point of view emphasizes the theme because it gives the reader the perspective of individuals being on the outside looking in, judging a situation merely on what they see, not concrete evidence or having an internal view. This ideal can be seen on a 21st century basis and relates to people of the 21st century because people often in these times idolize celebrities and famous people, individuals who seemingly have everything they could ever want to acquire in life. However, the people who idolize these celebrities have had no personal relation with these seemingly idealistic people and often are oblivious to their reality. their false representation is that these individuals have no internal challenges or struggles. They are so fascinated with the lifestyle that they are caught by surprise when these people that they idolize and glorify commit suicide or struggle with drugs. 

Reason being, they assumed based on an external view. In addition to using point of view to emphasize the theme, the author also uses symbolism in this poem. In this poem, the townspeople constantly point out all of Cory’s materialistic customs. Specifically, they mention things inherited money and clean appearance. Although these are not material objects, Cory possessed these commodities. Referencing the first couple of stanzas, the townspeople describe Cory as “clean- favored and imperially slim,” obviously looking at his physical appearance. Another point worth noting is that while the townspeople did this, they also constantly compared their lack of wealth and charm to Cory. Towards the end of the poem, the townspeople say how they were quote on quote waiting for light as if the light was a symbolization of a miracle that would somehow allow them to possess the same assets as Cory possessed, and that would inherently solve all their problems. This allusion relates to the theme, reason being the townspeople looked at Cory’s physical appearance and assumed that he had no problems. They saw his cleanliness and external state and assumed his life was flawless. Because of this, they were shocked by his unfortunate demise. This ideal relates to the people of the 21st century because adding on the previous ideal that judging an person or situation by appearance can lead to an unexpected outcome, also assuming that someone is happy or content in their life just because they have money, nice clothes, etc, is a false interpretation. 

Young teens see celebrities with an abundant amount of money and nice clothes and other items that one may view as valuable, and they automatically assume that their life is great or much better than their current state. However, acquiring materialistic things do not solve internal problems. Finally, the author uses irony to emphasize the theme, specifically Cory’s isolation. Throughout the entire poem, the townspeople never questioned nor even noticed how Cory didn’t have any outside personal relationships. At the beginning of the story, it says, “when RICHARD CORY went downtown…”, this one simple phrase indicates his solitude. Here and throughout the story, there is no mentioning of anyone with him nor is there any consistent dialogue throughout the story with him or anyone else. There is no mentioning of siblings, family, or even a romantic interest. This detail is ironic because the townspeople noticed his material and external assets and they are convinced that he has everything, but never stop to consider his alienation. He is in a sense, alone in a town full of people. However, the tone changes in the very last stanza in the last two lines, when what was described as a calm night, Richard Cory commits suicide. This conflict contradicts the townspeople initial reaction to his presence. This stands out and is relative to readers in the twenty first century because people in general do not notice when someone has a change in their behavior. Mainly because they have become accustom to getting a specific attitude from certain people, so it is easy to be ignorant in change. they don’t live the life that that individual lives, so expectedly, they pay attention to the wrong thing and takes external values and appearance to validate another person’s situation. When this happens, people are surprised when something traumatic happens because they didn’t pay attention to signs and behaviors. So, another theme for this poem could be silence can speak louder than words. 

For a while Depression and other mental disorders can start with a change in behavior or a person simply not talking to someone about their troubles and they start to try to communicate in different ways, like self-mutilation or drug abuse, or, in Cory’s case, suicide. Had someone questioned why he came alone or even if he had some type of companionship, his situation probably would’ve had a different outcome. In conclusion, themes of stories can have a timeless impact on a its reader. No matter how young or old the audience is, the way the author sets up a story can convey a message rather than just saying the actual words. each reader will analyze an author’s literary work, maybe even once or twice, and pull out key points in the structure of the work, and that will have them go deeper into the meaning which will affect them. no matter the time period it is read, the message stays the same.  


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