Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him--with her death. (line 78)
Now it's done. She's a bloody corpse, and she did it to warn her criminal boyfriend, who gets plugged anyway. OK, maybe that's a little harsh. We can't deny that Bess is brave. Still, the horror of this event, and the eventual uselessness of her action should make us think twice. This poem has two very courageous characters, but maybe it implies that courage isn't the most important thing. Maybe if one of these people had been a little less brave and a little more cautious, at least one of them would still be alive.
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high! (line 86)
The highwayman gets his moment of bravery too, with this suicidal death charge. It's beautiful and romantic and exciting. This line in particular is full of desperate energy. But isn't it also kind of a waste? We'll leave this point alone now, but we think this poem forces you to ask some questions about the value of courage, and maybe also about the idea of love at any cost.