Analysis of Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson

RobinsonRichard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson re-introduces the classic theme of pessimism where a man; Richard Cory is pen pictured as the pivotal character of the poem. The poem follows a classic narrative pattern where the speaker belongs to the lower class of the society &Richard Cory is depicted as an individual who has everything; apparently that is what others would think of him until the end of the poem where he shoots himself to death.

The very idea of “an American dream gone awry” forms the theme of Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington 

Richard Cory by Edward Arlington Robinson shows how Richard Cory looked like a true gentleman and that everyone in the town would look up to him with respect and admiration. He talked in a polite manner and was well dressed with bright jewelry that would shine from a distance. People said that RichardCory was richer than a King. The narrator of the poem himself belonged to the lower class and grew jealous of RichardCory; he wanted to be him. It was a difficult time for working class people and all they could earn for their family was the bread and no meat with it. Days went by and one night, Richard Cory shot himself to death to everyone’s astonishment.

The poem is a fine instance of what one would relate to their surroundings every day. The theme of Richard Cory depicts how outwardly looks can be deceiving and that no matter how rich you are you shall always fall short to buy happiness. Many critics believed that Richard Cory is nothing more than a allusion to King Richard I, whose French byname was “Richard Curry, or Cory”. Some other sources reveal Richard Cory being a character sketch of an individual residing in the native town Gardiner, where Edwin Robinson lived.

Richard Cory resides upon the element of irony as the main character who was an idol to everyone and then suddenly kills himself without stating any reason. This bears a strong resemblance to many contemporary poets too. However, the idea of Richard Cory pen pictured by Edwin Arlington Robinson is unique and appeals the readers with great vitality. The seemingly happy and rich portrait of Richard Cory as viewed by the working class was a fake image that the man wore outside. Perhaps he was depressed and had a reason to be unhappy and sad inside, something others couldn’t perceive. Richard Cory had been hiding behind the mask of smiles and affability which made him outwardly happy. When he couldn’t bear with his grief anymore, he chose death as the only viable option. This came upon a surprise to everyone who used to look up to him in awe and respect.

The idea of Richard Coryhas its roots in irony as people tend to believe that wealth is the source of happiness. However, Richard Cory’s suicide at the end of the poem is a blatant truth which breaks all myths that people once had about him. It might appear that the speaker was jealous of the man as he was rich and popular, but it might be the choice of words for him (as he belonged to the working class) that made his respect appear as envoy to the readers. The poem follows a certain mood from its very onset and continues to remain the same until there is a sudden deviation at the very end where he commits suicide. The description of Richard Cory is highly exaggerated which serve as a platform to introduce the surprise ending of the poem. The poetic essence of the piece finds its way when readers are pushed to find the reason of Richard Cory’s suicide at the end of the poem. His slimness, quietness, fluttering personality changes into something else where a man hiding his sorrows can be felt.

Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson calls for an in deep analysis where the gullible nature of human beings is brought to the surface. It is also a perfect instance of an American dream shaking on the “pavements”. The working class people who could afford the bread never liked it and ran to get the meat. This is also ironical considering we human beings are never satisfied with what we have.

Richard Cory is strikingly tragic and moral in the true sense of the term. The material value had made Richard Cory a subject of envy and wonder for all working class citizens until they felt that they were wrong, when he took his own life that fateful evening. The poem is regarded to be one of the very best ballads of modern American literature which evokes human emotions and proceeds to play with it and leaves behind a strong moral message,true to its core.

It’s Good to Know

  • Edwin Arlington Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry three times: in 1922 for his first Collected Poems, in 1925 for The Man Who Died Twice, and in 1928 for Tristram.

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