Homework Help

Describe the tone used in the poem, "Richard Corey."

user profile pic

faton | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 21, 2008 at 11:52 PM via web

dislike 2 like

Describe the tone used in the poem, "Richard Corey."

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 22, 2008 at 2:23 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 3 like

I would describe the tone as ironic. The poet spends most of the poem indicating how much people wanted to be like "Richard Cory". They envied his manners, his wealth and his status. Everyone "wished that we were in his place." Then suddenly, in the last line, we discover Cory has killed himself. This is the ultimate irony. Obviously, Cory was terribly unhappy with his life and his outside appearance hid a much deeper problem. This is fits the definition of irony perfectly, "something unexpected." From the initial shock of the ending, we discover that people are not always what they seems to be on the outside.

user profile pic

Michael Foster | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 22, 2008 at 12:05 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 2 like

The tone of "Richard Corey" is one of numbed shock and bemused confusion.  Why did this man who had everything take his own life?  He was comfortable financially.  He was well-liked.  He was attractive.  He had everything that people believe will make them happy.

And yet Richard Corey was not happy.  This leaves those who knew him confused.  How could they have known?  What signs did they miss?

The tone brings out an emotional response in readers by reminding them that all people are fighting unseen battles, and we never know who is about to give up the fight.

Michael Foster

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes