Richard Cory killing himself when he appeared to have everything is an example of what? 

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Richard Cory killing himself (in the poem “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson) when he appeared to have everything, is an example of “appearances being deceiving.” In the poem, Richard Cory was looked upon by the local citizenry as a gifted one, a person who had a charmed and successful life and had everything going for himself. This is the perception of him by the townsfolk.

Richard Cory was perceived as a ‘gentleman’, was perceived as ‘clean’, and he was physically attractive being ‘imperially slim.’ Therefore, people looked up to him and looked favorably on him. However, this was what he looked like on the outside; no one really knew what was going on internally - inside the man – what his thoughts, attitudes, viewpoints, worries and stresses and troubles were.

Citizens of the town were deceived as to his true character and nature because he always talked so nice to them. Richard Cory never let on what was troubling him – essentially – what demons he was battling inside himself. He walked with confidence on the streets but this was a façade, which hid his troubles.

Consequently, ‘appearances’ deceived people. They did not fathom the man’s inner hurt, which caused him to commit suicide, even though he was a rich man and well-schooled. In the end, Richard Cory killing himself was a wake-up call to the citizens of the town and made them realize that no one really knows everything about a person, and certainly outward appearances do not tell the whole story of a person. In fact, outward appearances only convey a small part about a person.