Study Guide

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. (Sonnet 43) Admiration

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Love is closely linked with admiration in "How do I love thee?" This is partly because the speaker admires her beloved as well as loving him, but it's also because her love for him seems to have replaced several other kinds of more childish admiration that she had for other people around her.

Questions About Admiration

  1. Does the speaker of "How do I love thee?" look up to or admire her beloved? Is she placing the beloved on a pedestal? Explain.
  2. Who are the speaker's "lost saints" (12)? There are a few good ways to answer this question, so don't feel pressured to come up with the "right" answer.
  3. At one point in this poem, the speaker says that she loves with her "childhood's faith" (10). In what or whom did she have faith? Why? Does she still have that same faith?

Chew on This

Although the speaker of "How do I love thee?" felt admiration for her childhood heroes, her adult love is a transformation of that admiration into affection.