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Edwin Arlington Robinson’s Richard Cory

Edwin Arlington Robinson’s Richard Cory

I have always secretly envied my dearest high school friend Erin. It was easy to be jealous of Erin since she was tall with beautiful blonde hair that turned many heads. She possessed grace and style and had the coolest car. Though people try to resist envy, most succumb to it from time to time. As people focus on all that they lack, they tend to ignore the flaws in those they envy. The observers in the poem Richard Cory allow envy to cloud their perception of themselves.

Cory appears to have it all. The poor townspeople look at him and they see the qualities that they themselves lack. An ugly person may believe that if they were beautiful then happiness would be secure. A lonely person believes that finding someone to end his loneliness would diminish his sadness. This is evident in the first three stanzas. The townspeople notice Cory’s appearance as superior to their own. “He glittered when he walked” (Robinson 986). They also noted the main character’s manner and abundance of material possessions. The observers were too busy working to have time to put effort in improving manners and could not even think of saving money when they were lucky not to starve. Many people want to be more outwardly beautiful or to have more money. My aunt and uncle were coming home to Indiana from Iowa for the Thanksgiving holiday six years ago when they met a drunk driver in a head-on collision. I remember the anguish my family felt for the following few days when we were unsure whether my uncle was going to survive. He did survive though he was altered for the next few years and suffered permanent damage to his body. Insurance companies are set up to right wrongs wit…

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…een fulfilled. The observers’ separate Cory and isolate him because of their perceptions of him.

I learned a very important lesson about envy a few years after becoming friends with Erin. After spending a few years wishing to be more like her, I expressed my feeling of envy. To my amazement, she expressed shock at the idea of my jealousy. She then told me of how before she became my friend that she was envious of me. I was friendly and possessed an outgoing personality whereas she was very timid. If the townspeople had the opportunity to develop a relationship with Richard Cory as I had with my schoolmate, they likely would have discovered their enviable qualities as well.


Robinson, Edwin Arlington. “Richard Cory” Literature Reading, Reacting, Writing. 4th Ed. Ed. Camille Adkins. Orlando: Harcourt College Publishers, 2001. 986.

Essay on Pointing the Finger in John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Pointing the Finger in Paradise Lost

After the fall in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve bicker and blame one another for their decent. First, Adam accuses Eve for her physical act of accepting the apple from Satan and eating it, thus defying God’s decree not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. In retaliation, Eve responds and attempts to not only justify her act, but also to place the blame on Adam. Eve’s reaction is typical of someone who does not like to admit he is wrong.

Eve begins by challenging Adam with an argument that he would have done the same thing had he been in her situation. “[Had’st] thou been there,/ Or here th’ attempt, thou couldst not have discern’d/ Fraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake” (IX 1148-1150). She is trying to justify her action in Adam’s mind by making him realize he would have acted the same way, and in effect she also hopes to gain his sympathy. This tactic is often effective because we do not tend to choose to recognize faults in others when we realize we are susceptible to the same mistakes. Aristotle recognizes the relationship between eliciting sympathy and making the audience relate to the situation in his Poetics when he describes the ideal character as one who is “true to life” (81). An audience must be able to relate to a falling character, or else they will not pity his plight. In other words, if a speaker wants sympathy from his audience, he must make them “feel his pain.”

Eve proceeds in her rebuttal with justification for her action based on the circumstances of the scenario. She argues, “No ground of enmity between us known,/ Why hee should me ill of seek to harm” (II 1151-1152). She seems to imply that a less trusting person would not have listened to the se…

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…ccusation that he did not try hard enough to keep her at his side when he asks, “What could I more?/ I warn’d thee, I admonish’d thee, foretold/ The danger, and the lurking Enemy/ That lay in wait” (IX 1170-1172). No matter how developed any one piece of Aristotle’s triangle seems, it is useless without the other two parts.

If you take a step back and observe this scene of Paradise Lost with your own experiences in mind, you realize how petty the “blame game” can be. Eve tries very hard to use persuasion as a “finger pointing” tool so she can alleviate any guilt of her own. However, she fails. We all must know what it feels like to fail in an argument, yet we still test situations like these sometimes when we do not want to accept full responsibility for something that has gone wrong.

Works Cited

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993.

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