Who is the speaker of the poem "Richard Cory"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The speaker of the poem "Richard Cory" is one of "we people on the pavement"; that is, the speaker is one of the common people who are citizens of the town in which Richard Cory dwells.

Because the setting of this poem is during the time of the Depression of 1893, there is a great divide between the wealthy and the common people who "went without the meat, and cursed the bread" upon which they must subsist. Because of this divide, the townspeople perceive Richard Cory as completely unlike them, interpreting his politeness and being "always human" as merely the courteous gestures of the refined. Sadly, they do not realize that he is as forlorn as they, but in a spiritual, rather than a physical way.

And, so, the people of the town are astonished when they learn that "one calm summer night," Richard Cory has "put a bullet through his head." Despite his wealth, his terrible isolation from others starves him; his starvation differs from that of the citizens of the town: it is the starvation of the soul.

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Richard Cory

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