"Appearance is not always the reality." Justify this statement by taking examples from the poem "Richard Cory."

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The poem “Richard Cory ” describes a man who seems very fortunate yet commits suicide. Through the glorious description of his character, the townspeople’s dazzled reaction to him, and finally his isolated outcomes, the theme demonstrates to the reader that appearances can be deceiving. Just because a person seems...

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The poem “Richard Cory” describes a man who seems very fortunate yet commits suicide. Through the glorious description of his character, the townspeople’s dazzled reaction to him, and finally his isolated outcomes, the theme demonstrates to the reader that appearances can be deceiving. Just because a person seems to have everything and is envied by others for their fortunes, does not necessarily imply that the person also feels so lucky and fulfilled by their fortunes. In this manner, “Richard Cory” is useful at demonstrating how a man who appears to have everything, likened to a king, can actually be very lonely and lacking true connections.

“Richard Cory” portrays the character as being royalty, compared to a king and admired by all, yet does not imply that he had any close relationships or joy in his life. In the first stanza of “Richard Cory”, the author describes Cory as being a gentleman from sole to crown, clean favored, and imperially slim. The words “crown” and “imperially” emphasize Cory’s air of royalty as felt by the townspeople. In the second stanza of “Richard Cory”, the author states how Cory was human when he talked, fluttered pulses when he said “good morning”, and glittered when he walked. Since Cory was likened to royalty, he was seen as being immortal and above other men, and therefore, it was a gift to be seen as a common “human” when he talked. Additionally, people were so excited at a mere acknowledgement from Cory that a phrase such as “good morning” was enough to make their day, hence “fluttering pulses”; furthermore, Cory seemed to “glitter when he walked”, meaning that he was not of this Earth, and appeared to others as a golden man. However, given his eventual suicide, the reader understands that Richard Cory is in fact human as well.

In stanza three of “Richard Cory”, Cory is described as being “richer than a king”, yet he is never described as having any joy. He is simply admired by all, appearing as royalty to others, and yet not much is known about him. Cory is described in a way that makes him appear mythical and immortal, perhaps intimidating others to the point where Cory is unable to make any real connections. The people harbored an idea about who he was, because they never actually knew him as a real man; this is why they “thought he was everything”. However, their perceptions clearly did not match how Cory felt about himself.

The fourth and final stanza of “Richard Cory” describes the plight of the townspeople, continuously working and pressing on despite their rough times; “so on we worked...and went without meat…” The poem ends on a very somber note, “and Richard Cory, one calm summer night, went home and put a bullet through his head”. The calm summer night adds juxtaposition to the nature of his death; nature was at its most beautiful, at peace, yet Richard Cory felt alone, dark, and cold enough to end his own life. This juxtaposition between the setting and Richard Cory’s feelings provide all perspective needed to derive the theme, that appearances can be deceiving. 

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