OJO ESTE ES!!!! - Could Robinson Have Saved Marilyn...

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Could Robinson Have Saved Marilyn? Scapegoating in '^Richard Cory" Terrell L. Tebbetts Edwin Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory" strikes many readers as both simple and, at the same time, enigmatic. It can appear simple because it seems so easily reduced to a cliche, some- thing like "Money can't buy happiness." Yet it can appear equally enigmatic because it seems to shed so little light on exactly what unhappiness the title character suffered and failed to buy his way out of Readers can guess about this unhappiness, of course. May- be Richard Cory was an alcoholic like Robinson's brother Hernian. Maybe he was a drug addict like Robinson's brother Dean. Maybe, as Robinson's early biographer Hermann Hagedom guesses, he was like other Robinson characters—Cavender, Nightingale, and Matthias—and thus an egoist filled with "cruelty, complacency, blindness, bewilderment, unhappiness, loneliness, remorse" (361), a man never truly bom (362). But then, of course, readers have to acknowledge that the poem gives them little internal evidence for such charges, leaving them to retreat into the perceived enigma, asserting that the poem does not reveal why the rich man couldn't buy happiness with all his wealth. William Free, for example, sees the poem ending in "unresolved paradox" (29). Hoyt Franchere admits that the poem offers no clue as to "what private sense of failure, what personal recognition of his inadequacy, or what secret unfulfilled longing drove Cory to suicide" (85-86). On further examination, however, the poem is not so 63
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Scapegoating in "Richard Cory" enigmatic as these readers make it. Nor does it have a cliche at its heart. Quite to the contrary, it possesses what Wallace Anderson calls a "rich complexity that becomes increasingly rewarding with successive readings" (108). It rewards close reading, in fact, even more than Anderson suggests in his otherwise clear and apprecia- tive consideration. It certainly offers more than the occasional sen- tence or two, the paragraph or two, allowed it in the criticism of the last two decades. To be specific, it quite fully portrays why the title character is so unhappy that he commits suicide. It does so through its other character, its speaker. He explains the suicide in words with a subtext the reader can grasp even if the speaker misses it himself, the speaker being one of those who J. C. Levenson says "miss the meaning of the tales they tell" (165). If this poem is indeed one of the "psychological studies" Robinson is known for (Free 20), it is this confessional speaker, not Cory, whose psyche the reader finds revealed. As Charles A. Sweet, Jr., has asserted and partially ex- plored, it is in coming to understand the speaker's psyche that the reader also comes to understand Cory's suicide (579).
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This note was uploaded on 12/01/2011 for the course ENGL 1102 taught by Professor Abbott during the Spring '07 term at Georgia Perimeter.

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OJO ESTE ES!!!! - Could Robinson Have Saved Marilyn...

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