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Edwin Arlington Robinson's career spanned the literary bridge between the very late 1800s and the early 1900s, with his winning three Pulitzer prizes in the 1920s. "Richard Cory" is an example of realism in modern American poetry, as is another of his most famous poems, "Miniver Cheevy." Some of Robinson's poetry in theme and content is associated with that of T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost, two other modern American poets in the genre of realism.
Several of the major characteristics of realism can be identified in "Richard Cory." There is, for instance, a complete absence of sentimentality. Cory's suicide is not mourned or memorialized. No good comes of it. It merely occurs and is reported as fact. The poor who envied Richard Cory are not romanticized or redeemed by any special strengths as a result of their difficult circumstances: They were just poor as they "went without the meat, and cursed the bread." Finally, the tremendous irony of Cory's suicide, as well as its manner, is reflective of realism. The man who "glittered when he walked" did not "take his own life" or "cease to be." He simply "put a bullet through his head."
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