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Richard Cory, the wealthiest man in town, whose wealth, instead of making him happy, only makes him envied by the townspeople and isolated from them. He is a success in their eyes but a failure in his own, as we judge from the fact that, despite his high position in the town, he commits suicide. The motive for his suicide remains a mystery, for Robinson portrays him only from the outside, from the view of those who admired him and "thought that he was everything / To make us wish that we were in his place." Since the reason for his death can never be fathomed, Richard Cory is one of Robinson’s best-known but most enigmatic characters. No matter how many times they are read, the final lines of the poem "Richard Cory" never lose the shock of his sudden and unexpected end:

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Was it his conspicuous wealth, his lonely existence without family or kin, or perhaps some secret crime he committed that led him to take his own life? We never know; what we are left with is the darkness inside his soul, which only grows more impenetrable as one reflects on it. Robinson keeps himself out of the poem, letting it be told by the people of the town, the "we" who are left to puzzle it out at the end. Despite having a name symbolic of a noble family—Richard Cory rhymes with glory and evokes the name of Richard Coeur de Lion—Cory’s death leaves behind no other "king" in Tilbury Town.