Study Guide

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

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Mortality

The speaker in "How do I love thee?" is determined to carry her love for "thee" beyond the grave, as long as God lets her. In fact, something as violent and destructive as death will only heighten her passion – she hopes!

Questions About Mortality

  1. Why does this sonnet reference death at all? Why might the speaker be thinking about death in the context of describing the ways that she loves?
  2. Whose death is being referred to in the final line of the sonnet – the speaker's or the beloved's?

Chew on This

By turning to the eventuality of death at the end of the poem, the speaker acknowledges God's ultimate power over her love.