Original poem reprinted online here: "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Originally read: February 18, 2013
More information about the Poet: Edwin Arlington Robinson
So the "we" narrative has been done before and reinvented through stories like Kanthapura and A Rose for Emily (oddly, I cannot remember works that use the "we" narrative before this poem was written). So what does the "we" narrative contribute to a piece
1) I think isolation is the main point. That the "we" narrative is a collective thought (everyone is thinking this way) against the construction of the subject through the lens of the collective thought. For example, if the collective thought that subject was weird -- the style and the narrative adapts to the collective style.
2) In the "we" narratives that I've read, the collective doesn't know the "exact" nature of a person. Richard Cory, who seems to have everything he wants, kills himself at the end. Emily, who lived her life alone, has the corpse on her bed. There is a sense of shock finding how the individual is different.
So there's the "we" narrative perspective -- there's also the form that accentuates the separation. The rhyme scheme happens on opposing lines.
What separates this poem from other work that use the "we" narration is also the fable like build up and tone in the poem, "He was a gentleman sole to crown, / Clean favored, and imperially slim." The Word choice here is especially "sole to crown" (which has a dark foreshadowing connotation in it as well) and the adjective "imperially" to describe slim. Both descriptions area bit surreal exaggerations with dark consequesnces.
And that's how the description goes foreshadowing something bad happening with overcompensating description, "But still he fluttered pulses when he said," "And he was rich - yes, richer than a king -" "we thought that he was everything" The more grandiose the description, the more the anticipation builds (I'm thinking about how I read this the first time so long ago).
Then when the end comes -- the brevity comes as a confirmation of the truth, "Went home and put a bullet through his head." This is an action that can't be disputed or built up by the "we' narration -- this action has to be accepted.