SOMETHING EXTRA: Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem "Luke Havergal" invites attention from critics or analysts who are concerned with the roles of gender in literature. After all, the poem clearly has one male as a character and one female as a character, but it also has a character (the speaker) who is never "gendered" -- that is, never clearly identified as either male or female. Perhaps this lack of clear gender identity is just one more way in which the poem is mysterious and thought-provoking. Not only do we not know the precise motives of the speaker, but we do not even know the speaker's precise gender (if any).
One of the most interesting aspects of the speaker, when that figure is studied from the perspective of gender, is that the speaker can seem to reveal both stereotypically "male" and stereotypically "female" traits. On the one hand, the speaker reveals the stereotypically "male" traits of confidence, assertiveness, self-assurance, and outspokenness. On the other hand, the speaker can be seen almost as a kind of temptress who speaks about, and on behalf of, the mysteriously dead female. The speaker can be seen as trying to entice Havergal, perhaps to kill himself. If the speaker is gendered as female, she can almost be seen as a kind of witch figure:
Yes, there is yet one way to where she is,
Bitter, but one that faith may never miss.
Out of a grave I come to tell you this—
To tell you this.
Yet, as has already been indicated, assigning any clear gender role to this speaker seems nearly impossible, and that is just one part of the fascinating ambiguity of this poem.