What Is an Analysis of "Richard Cory"?


Quick Answer

The poem "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson tells the story of a gentleman, Richard Cory, who kills himself for an unknown reason. Many critical interpretations of the poem suggest that the reason Cory commits suicide is because he is lonely and separated from the town community because of his elevated social and economic standing.

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Full Answer

Within this context, the poem can be interpreted as a reflection on Richard Cory's hollow center or core. His outward appearance suggested that he had everything that a person could ask for, but inside he was severely lacking some feeling of community or spiritual substance which caused him to end his own life with "a bullet through the head."

Another interpretation of the poem is that Cory killed himself due to some perceived rejection by the town's people. Critics that ascribe to this interpretation point to the instance in the poem where Cory says "Good-Morning" to the townspeople as evidence of Cory's efforts to assimilate into the community. However, the townspeople and the narrator just go on working and "waiting for the light" instead of reaching out and welcoming Cory as one of their own, which may have caused him to kill himself.

In a more general sense, the poem also comments on the difference between perceived appearance and reality. The poem is believed to have been set in the economic depression of 1893 when people "went without meat and cursed the bread."

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