Satirism and Irony in Richard Cory and the Unknown Citizen Both W. H. Auden's Unknown Citizen and Edwin Arlington Robinson's Richard Cory offer satirical and ironic portrayals of the contrast between people's external image and illusion of happiness and their actual emotional state. In each case the poet offers an outsider's glimpse of a person thought, objectively, to be happy and successful by societal norms. Both also offer an ironic perspective to conclude the poem, indicating in each case that the external metrics of happiness and success may be less accurate than they appear. While the poems share these structural aspects they are ultimately satirizing distinct aspects of society: Robinson's Richard Cory satirizes the notion that...The end:
..... the ultimate depersonalized institutional presence, presumptuously assuming that its catalog of data is the sum total of that citizen's life. The Unknown Citizen is thus also a satirization of the decline of communities in post-industrial society, whereas conversely Richard Cory may be a slight satirization of how small communities conflate ideas such as wealth and happiness. Each poem, on a basic level, is a simple narrative about a single person. In both cases, that person is utterly and tragically unknown by those purporting to chronicle his life. In that sense each poem ironically punctuates its enumeration of facts and qualities with a final fact that undermines the idea that those enumerations lend any insight into the person at all.