Thursday, September 26, 2019

Richard Cory from a Nineteenth and 20th Century Perspective Essay

Richard Cory from a Nineteenth and 20th Century Perspective - Essay Example The words have evolved from a nineteenth century idyll on a mysterious and respected man of a class admired from afar, to a modern icon of privilege, greed, self aggrandizement and abuse of position at the expense, as it is seen, of the common working man. There is clearly a connection in the struggle of the working classes prominent in American realism both at the turn-of-the-century and in the 1960s when Simon and Garfunkel wrote their lyrics. However, we see from the reaction of the speakers a growing sense of hopelessness and anger over time from Robinson’s character who, while going â€Å"without meat,† and cursing â€Å"the bread,† still await â€Å"the light.† (Robinson 13-14). For Simon and Garfunkel’s character there seems no hope, no â€Å"light† as they say, â€Å"And I curse the life I’m living and I curse my poverty† (Simon and Garfunkel 6-7). As an extension of the realism of the nineteenth century, Robinson can be placed at the beginning of the â€Å"naturalist movement,† which sought to write â€Å"about the fringes of society, the criminal, the fallen, the down-and-out, earning as one definition of their work the phrase sordid realism† (Penrose par. 18). ... 3). Simon and Garfunkel, from a more acerbic, less flattering perspective suggest Cory as a superficial product of being â€Å"born into society, a banker’s only child† (Simon and Garfunkel 3), hardly a gentleman whom, it is rumored, hosts â€Å"parties and orgies on his yacht† (Simon and Garfunkel 14). While Robinson’s rich man is almost ethereal, the other is portrayed as a negative product of wealth and power—an advantage despised by the narrator who complains: I work in his factory And I curse the life I'm living (Simon and Garfunkel 27-28) From an historical perspective this difference in viewpoints projects the naivete of earlier times when the rich were placed on pedestals, and by the sixties were viewed in a less positive social light. Instead of Robinson’s main character as a man â€Å"possessed by disgust and self pity† (Kaplan 36), Simon and Garfunkel’s character is a self aggrandizing, morally bankrupt product of wea lth and privilege. Neither man can assuage their consciences: Simon and Garfunkel’s although he â€Å"freely gave to charity† (Simon and Garfunkel 23), nor Robinson’s, though he condescended to greet his lesser beings with â€Å"Good-morning† (Robinson 8). The overriding sense in reading both the poem and Simon and Garfunkel’s lyrics is one of irony, though in Simon and Garfunkel’s the reader gets a better glimpse of the man. Yet according to P. Cohen, Robinson’s â€Å"Cory† is the perfect parable set against the perfect irony that pervades the work. P. Cohen writes: â€Å"Richard Cory†Ã¢â‚¬ ¦[illustrates] how we, as individuals, should cherish that which we have, because the truly important things in life can be lost if our attention strays to envy.

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