An Analysis of the Topic of Edwin Arlington Robinson's Richard Cory

Growing up as a child, what did you picture your life as an adult? Did you picture think of yourself having your dream job and marrying the person of your dreams? Do you picture yourself living in a town that you absolutely love with your spouse and children? Would not this be the perfect life to have? Imagine not having a life anything you dream of as a child.

In “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson, Richard Cory did not receive the life of an adult that he dreamed of having as a child. Although it seemed as Richard Cory has a life one should never complain about, he lived a life one never wished to have. When reading the poem, the character Richard Cory as Edwin Arlington Robinson when he was a child. Poet, Edwin Arlington Robinson did not live a great life either. When Edwin Arlington Robinson was born, his parents were hoping for a girl.

Being a boy, he parents have forever looked down at him as a disappointment.

Having such a horrible childhood, Edwin Arlington Robinson chose to do something he loved to do. It is almost as if Edwin Arlington Robinson portrayed his childhood through poems written about people whom did not have a great life. These people who he wrote about were a representation of how he felt as a child. Being looked down at as a disappointment, Robinson could have easily felt like he was living life alone just as the character Richard Cory did.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: Edwin Arlington Robinson

4.7 (348)

“ Amazing as always, gave her a week to finish a big assignment and came through way ahead of time. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Sometimes people tend to forget to look past the surface of others. Which in return causes people to soak in pain and left feeling unnoticed. I choose to write about this poem and poet because I strongly believe it is a perfect representation of today’s society, which is a person pretending to be happy on the outside, but he or she is actually suffering in pain on the inside. Being such a disappointment, Edwin Arlington “began writing regularly at the age of eleven and in high school was willing to be part of his town’s poetry society as its youngest member” (Edwin Arlington Robinson’s Life and Career).

At the age of twenty-eight, Edwin Arlington Robinson published the poem “Richard Cory”. “Richard Cory” is about a man name Richard Cory whom would walk on the pavement of down town with a smile from ear to ear. Richard Cory was a well-dressed individual who always uttered “Good-Morning” to the people he passed on the pavement. People were always looking at him because he always seemed to be in a good mood “And he was rich—yes, richer than a king–/ And admirable schooled in every grace” (lines 9-10). By those descriptions, Richard Cory seemed to have a life one simply could not complain about. Although, that was not the case for Richard Cory.

Once Cory arrived home, he felt alone and miserable. Even though Richard Cory walked the streets with a smile and a good attitude, he was crumbing to pieces on the inside. With no family to go home to and no friends to hang out and talk about life with, Richard Cory ended up in a depression state. The depression grew to a point in which he could no longer handle “And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, / Went home and put a bullet through his head” (line 15-16).

One might be wondering why Edwin Arlington Robinson would write a poem of such context. Well, Robinson’s life was not much different from the character, Richard Cory. The only difference in the two lives is that Edwin Robinson did not kill himself. Robinson died of cancer in 1935.

During his lifetime, Robinson, just like Richard Cory, never married and had deep social issues, which are both revealed throughout his poems. Although these problems were present in his life, Edwin Robinson was known as one of America’s greatest poets to ever surface. “Robinson’s poems, the best of them and those that will last,” Radcliffe Squires wrote, “emerge from an awareness that life is continuously menaced: that innocence and experience alike are threatened by the bland modular construction of society and the soulless press of industrialism” (Poetry Criticism 1 [1991]: 496). Most readers would consider Edwin Robinson to be a people poet.

Instead of concentrating on themes, Robinson mainly focuses on individuals. In “Edwin Arlington Robinson”, Nancy Joyner said, “He exhibits a curious mixture of irony and compassion toward his subjects–most of whom are failures–that allows him to be called a romantic existentialist” (page 1). Edwin Arlington Robinson is known for his work. Fellow writer Amy Lowell declared in the “New York Times Book Review”, “Edwin Arlington Robinson is poetry. I can think of no other living writer who has so consistently dedicated his life to his work” (Poetry Foundation).

Throughout Robinson’s series of poems, he reveals a story about his own life. Richard Cory is just another perfect example of the depressed life Edwin Arlington Robinson lived. Just like the character in the story, Robinson had a great deal of money and always seemed happy on the outside for the public to see. But little did the public really know is that Edwin Robinson had major social problems so he was never able to make friends and was never able to marry. This caused him to go home to an empty household everyday.

Many critics would say that Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poetry is “exceedingly depressing”. Being about a man committing suicide, Richard Cory’s fits right into the depressing category Edwin Robinson loves to write about. What makes this poem so intriguing? Well, Edwin Robinson uses specific words to make Richard Cory’s life sound like a life someone dreamed of having. In the second stanza, Edwin Arlington Robinson uses words such as “fluttered” and “glittered”.

Through these specific words, Richard Cory is present as a guy who is always in a good mood and enjoys waking up in the morning to go down town. One would never image that Richard felt alone. Robinson also uses figurative language to portray Richard Cory as a happy individual. In the last stanza of the poem, Robinson presents the townspeople, “So on we worked, and waited for the light” (line 13).

This metaphor shows that the townspeople thought Mr. Richard Cory lived a perfect life. The townspeople carried throughout their days wishing they could be like him and waiting for their time for a better life. So if people dreamed of having his life, why did feel alone and kill himself? Why did not they become friends with him? By adding this part in the poem, Robinson shows that a happy life was the exact opposite of how his life actually was.

Although he looked like he was happy on the outside, he was crumbling to pieces on the inside. Richard Cory felt alone. He had no one to turn to. Even though the townspeople saw Cory as a rich guy who walked around town smiling and glowing, something just did not add up. Yes, he is wealthy, but money does not buy happiness.

Richard Cory had an internal problem that no one took the time to help with or even asked about. I do not believe in poem is “better” than another, but I believe poems have a greater impact on people based on how they interpret the piece of work. “Richard Cory” had a big impact on me because at one point in my life, I was that person working around school and going places with friends with a smile on my face. But once arriving home, nothing. I felt alone because my family was going through some hard times.

Having a firsthand experience with always allow people to have a better understanding of what the speaker to trying to present. With that said, I do not believe “Richard Cory” is better than an other poem, but I think it best fits the things I have experience throughout my life thus far. In “A Re-examination Of “Richard Cory””, Charles A. Sweet, Jr. said, “Richard Cory” is one of Edwin Arlington Robinson’s most anthologized poems, is also one of the least examined” (page 578).

Why did I write about this poem? Why did I chose this poem over others? That question can be answered like just three simple words: close personal experience. Clearly I did not commit suicide nor did things ever get that bad, but I went through a period of time of feeling alone. Yes, my family had money, but I felt as though no one was there by my side. This poem teaches us that money does not buy happiness and people need others in their lives to go through every milestone with. Also, this poem teaches us that we, as a society, need to realize that everything has different affect on everyone.

Everyone does not deal with every situation with the same way. We need to be careful about what we do and say because we never know how our actions and or words will or can affect others. Not really worried about whom the poet would be, I wanted to find a poem to write about that I would connect and relate to very easily.

What make this poem a poem? Well, I’m not really certain a poem as a true definition. Who is to say if something is a poem or not? With an open mindset, anything will be able to “fit in” to what you think poetry can do. Some poetry may not have any influence and effect on anyone’s life, but then at the same time, a poem and or poet could drastically change a person’s life forever. As mentioned before, I was able to easily relate to this poem from a few drastic events that occurred in my life.

This poem also “fits into” what I think I poetry can do because I believe poetry can open people’s eye wider than they have ever been opened before. If understood correctly, a poem can teach us about many things about the world that we would not have never known about or taken the time to learn about. As more and more generations are born, we tend to spend less and less time learning about things that does not strike our interest. Even though some things do not strike our interest, it is important to take time and learn about those things. We may not need or want to know the information now, but we may did to know the information one day in the future.

Now, how does my argument “fit in” with the sources I have used? Well, the authors of the articles and I pretty much had the same train of though when regarding the theory that this poem is an exact representation of today’s society. We both believe that individuals would much rather just put a smile on their face and go about their day.

They would rather do that instead of showing or telling people how the really. They would rather crumble in the inside of internal pain instead of trying to get help from family and friends. They also agree that it is easy to understand and write about a poem if you have any relation to it at all, no matter the how drastic or how small the relation is.

All in all, “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson is a great poem to read. It teaches us the biggest life lesson of all. Which is, to stop looking at all the bigger pictures through life and to slow down sometimes to look at the importance for all the small things in life that most people tend to overlook. Sometimes the best meaning of life is found in the small things.

If people do not seem like their self, even in the smallest way possible, talk a few seconds of your day to see what has happened to them or what has upset them. Taking just a few seconds or minutes out of your day will help out the person suffer drastically. It might even get to the point where you could be the one reason why they do not kill themselves, if they are that badly depressed. How would you feel knowing you were the reason someone chose not to commit suicide?

Cite this page

An Analysis of the Topic of Edwin Arlington Robinson's Richard Cory. (2023, May 05). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7