How does the symbol of Richard Cory reveal the theme of the poem "Richard Cory"?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The image of Richard Cory, the symbolism of both who he was and how the town saw him, are of vital importance to the theme of the poem.  The idea of Richard Cory being someone of respect, and with almost an aura of regalia to him is essential to understanding what happened to him.  People regarded him in an almost point of view.  His amassing of wealth cut him off from people and this helped to feed the perception of him as being someone who "glittered" apart from others.  While this helped to intensify the way people looked at him, it might hint at the fundamental sadness that is apparent in his character, causing him to not be able to forge anything in way of social solidarity with others.  This isolation compelled him to end his life in the manner he did and cause a level of uncertainty in how he was viewed by others.  His being "richer than a king" was a symbol of how the town viewed him, but it was also representative of how alienated Cory was from himself and others.