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    • POEM: Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson (4/6/2010 2:44:00 PM)

      Richard Corey is a poem of the narcissist. Caught in a double-bind in which he must present with exaggerated dignity and mastery in order to feel adequate, and having so sold himself, can never allow himself to be truly known for the inferior he secretly feels himself to be.
      His ability to mimic the superior status he must maintain in order to feel justified results from his having sold it to himself almost completely-the better convince others... but at the expense of his true emotions, which are toxic with shame, and which he began repressing so long ago in order to receive the success he hoped would prove them wrong, that he has on most levels forgotten that long-past decision, become willfully ignorant of his corrosive interior life, and become doomed to a treadmill which he has slowly realized is not only leading nowhere, but which ensures through its repeated success that he will become less able to free himself from emotional torture, and self-actualize through self-expression, as his continued upward socioeconomic trajectory only makes it more impossible that his 'weakness' might be acceptable in the eyes of those who have grown to admire him.
      Rather than ruin the false self he's created, and end up a despised imposter in the eyes of those whose admiration has become his one small solace, he opts for a last stroke of honesty-his admission of abject helplessness..and through suicide ensures that he will not remain to face the jeers of the admirers who have placed him on a pedestal, secretly hoping to see him fall.
      He reduces the gulf between his emotional self and public self with one fell-swoop-anhilating both in what seems the only possible means of resolving the no longer tolerable stresses of subterfuge in the face of a problem only growing, rather than receding, at his lifelong efforts.