Simon & Garfunkel, an iconic American folk-rock duo, have left an indelible mark on the music industry with their profound lyrics and harmonious melodies. The pair, made up of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel, emerged from the New York borough of Queens, creating a body of work that resonated far beyond their generation and long into the future.

One of their most memorable hits is “Mrs. Robinson,” a song that continues to captivate audiences even today. Released in 1968 as part of the album ‘Bookends,’ the song was the first rock and roll tune to top the charts.

Its popularity was not only due to its catchy tune but also the depth and complexity of its lyrics.

This article aims to delve into the meaning behind the song, offering a fresh perspective on this timeless classic.

Background of Mrs. Robinson

“Mrs. Robinson” is an iconic song by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel, released in their fourth studio album ‘Bookends’ in 1968.

The song, which was written for the movie “The Graduate,” starred Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson, a middle-aged woman who seduces a much younger Dustin Hoffman.

This connection with the film has led many to view it as the unofficial anthem of the older woman and a song of the sultry suburban tryst.

Interestingly, the song’s creation has an intriguing backstory. It originally started with the line “Here’s to you, Mrs. Roosevelt,” drawing inspiration from the life of Eleanor Roosevelt.

The lyrics also indicate a deeper theme about the state of the nation in the late ’60s, with Mrs. Robinson serving as an archetype of the generation that could no longer uphold the “perfectness” of the American Dream.

In the hooks of the song, the artists state to Mrs. Robinson that “Jesus loves” her a lot, asking for God’s blessings in her life. This religious overtone may seem surprising given the song’s association with the film, but it adds an additional layer of complexity and depth to its meaning.

The release of “Mrs. Robinson” came at a time of significant cultural and societal change in the United States. As such, its themes and lyrics resonated with audiences, making it a timeless classic that continues to be loved and appreciated even today.

Lyrics Analysis

“Mrs. Robinson” has been the subject of much interpretation since its release in 1968. The song’s lyrics, penned by Paul Simon, weave a narrative that is both personal and societal.

The opening lines, “And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know,” set the stage for the song’s exploration of the character of Mrs. Robinson^9^ . This line establishes her as a central figure, while also introducing one of the song’s recurring themes: religion.

The lyrics proceed to describe Mrs. Robinson as someone hiding in her comfortable suburban life, “hiding in a hiding place where no one ever goes.” This could be interpreted as a commentary on the isolation and loneliness often found in seemingly perfect suburban lives.

In the chorus, Simon & Garfunkel sing, “God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson. Heaven holds a place for those who pray.” Here, the duo seems to be commenting on the hypocrisy of outwardly religious individuals who do not live according to their professed beliefs.

A notable line in the song is “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” Joe DiMaggio was a revered baseball player, symbolic of an idealized version of America. His mention suggests a longing for simpler times and reflects the societal changes and disillusionment of the era.

Overall, the lyrics paint a picture of a complex character in Mrs. Robinson, living in a time of significant cultural shift. They offer a critical view of society, exploring themes of religion, hypocrisy, and the loss of innocence.

Themes and Symbolism in “Mrs. Robinson”

“Mrs. Robinson,” the iconic song by Simon & Garfunkel, is rich in themes and symbolism that have kept audiences engaged for decades.

Major Themes

Disillusionment: One of the most prominent themes in “Mrs. Robinson” is disillusionment. The character of Mrs. Robinson is portrayed as worn out and numb, possessing everything yet feeling almost nothing. This mirrors the general sentiment of disillusionment in America during the late 1960s, a time marked by political upheaval and societal change.

Youth vs Age: The song also explores the theme of youth versus age. Mrs. Robinson’s character, an older woman, is contrasted against the young protagonist from the film “The Graduate,” highlighting the generational divide and tension.

Societal Changes: Another key theme is societal change. The song was released during a period of significant cultural shift in America, and it reflects this through its lyrics. Phrases like “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you,” express a longing for simpler times and an idealized version of America that was rapidly fading.

Symbolic Elements

The lyrics of “Mrs. Robinson” are filled with symbolic elements that add depth to the song’s meaning.

Religion: Religion is a recurring motif in the song, with references to Jesus and prayer throughout. These could be interpreted as a critique of religious hypocrisy, particularly among those living comfortable suburban lives.

Symbols from the Film: The song also includes symbols from “The Graduate.” For instance, the mention of jewelry and underwear in the film represents Mrs. Robinson’s powers of seduction and sexuality.

Joe DiMaggio: The reference to Joe DiMaggio, a revered baseball player, serves as a symbol of an idealized version of America. His mention suggests a longing for simpler times and reflects the societal changes and disillusionment of the era.

In conclusion, “Mrs. Robinson” is a song filled with themes and symbolism that reflect the societal and cultural context of its time. Its enduring popularity attests to the power of its message and the skill of its creators.

Public Reaction and Impact

“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel was highly acclaimed upon its release in 1968. The song quickly became a cultural touchstone, resonating with audiences due to its catchy tune and profound lyrics. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States and was also a hit in several other countries^20^.

The public reception to the song was overwhelmingly positive. Many listeners found the song’s themes of disillusionment and societal change to be deeply relatable, reflecting the cultural shifts and tensions of the late 1960s.

In terms of impact on popular culture, “Mrs. Robinson” has had a lasting influence. The song is often associated with the movie “The Graduate,” and it has been referenced in various forms of media, including films, TV shows, and books, further solidifying its status as a cultural icon.

Moreover, “Mrs. Robinson” has influenced many artists and musicians. Its unique blend of folk-rock sound and insightful lyrics set a precedent for future songwriters, inspiring them to tackle complex social issues through their music.

Simon & Garfunkel’s Perspective

Simon & Garfunkel have often spoken about their music and the meaning behind their songs in interviews. However, the duo’s comments about “Mrs. Robinson” specifically are somewhat sparse.

In a 1982 interview, Paul Simon shared some insight into his songwriting process but did not delve into the specifics of “Mrs. Robinson.” He mentioned how he and Art Garfunkel grew up together and their relationship influenced their music^24^.

The Guardian published an article in 2015 that included an excerpt from a 1975 interview with Rolling Stone where Simon & Garfunkel discussed their public image and relationship. However, they did not discuss the specific meaning or interpretation of “Mrs. Robinson” in this interview^25^.

In a 1967 profile published by The New Yorker, Simon & Garfunkel spoke about their music and the poetry in their lyrics. But again, they did not delve into the specifics of “Mrs. Robinson” in this piece^26^.

Based on the available information, it appears that Simon & Garfunkel have been somewhat reticent about discussing the specific meaning and interpretation of “Mrs. Robinson.” This may be due to their preference for allowing listeners to form their own interpretations of their songs.


“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel is not just a song; it’s a cultural icon. Released during a time of significant social and cultural change, the song encapsulates the mood of an era marked by disillusionment and longing for simpler times.

The song’s themes—disillusionment, youth vs age, and societal changes—resonated deeply with audiences. The lyrics, rich in symbolism, painted a vivid picture of the times and offered a critique of the changing societal landscape.

Even though Simon & Garfunkel have remained somewhat reticent about the specific meaning and interpretation of “Mrs. Robinson,” the song’s impact and influence are undeniable. It topped charts upon its release, became an integral part of the film “The Graduate,” and has left a lasting mark on popular culture.

“Mrs. Robinson” continues to be popular decades after its release, a testament to its timeless appeal and the skill of its creators. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the power of music to capture the spirit of an era and touch the hearts of listeners across generations.

In the end, the true meaning of “Mrs. Robinson” may be as complex and multi-layered as the song itself, offering different insights to different listeners. This complexity is part of what makes “Mrs. Robinson” such an enduring and captivating piece of music.


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