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In Edward Arlington Robinson's poem, "Richard Cory," there is metaphor upon metaphor. Richard Cory is described with glowing, unstated comparisons, reflective of the fact that he himself has become a metaphor for what he really is. That is, the "people on the pavement," the seemingly mundane people, have so glorified Richard who is "richer than a king" that he no longer possesses a real identity for them. Instead, he represents what they cannot attain, and thus envy as they "go without the meat" and "cursed the bread" that in their poverty is all they have to eat. Cory is regal: he "glitters when he walks," "a gentleman from sole to crown," and "schooled in every grace."
This lack of true identity has perhaps wrought the distress in Richard Cory that causes his suicide. And, Richard Cory's situation has much verisimilitude, for in this country the ordinary people--those on the pavement--worship celebrities, thinking that they, like Richard, are "everything to make [them] wish [they] were in his/her place." Thus, in their envy, the public transforms these celebrities into metaphors of themselves. Not long after this transformation, the media can then joyously report the tragic news that the price of fame has cost them.
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