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Quotes

Quote #4

Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood. (line 80)

Another violent, strong image. Bess doesn't just sort of pass out of the poem. We're forced to look at her mangled body and her wet blood. It's almost like we zoom in, put the whole thing under a microscope. The poem needs this violence in order to work. If we don't feel Bess' death like a punch in the gut, then the whole thing sort of deflates. Oh, also, check out how the color red pops up again, like in the highwayman's coat and Bess's love-knot.

Quote #5

And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat. (line 90)

More blood, more death. The blood-soaked body of the highwayman echoes the corpse of Bess that we saw just ten lines earlier. They die apart, but are also united, in a sad way, by the way that they died. They both gave their lives in violent ways, but in both cases it was done for love. We think it's kind of tough to separate violence and love in this poem.

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