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"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," a sense of mystery is created from the beginning by the introduction of the Mariner and the way he tells his story to the Wedding Guest, with the events of the voyage told in flashback. The story told by the Mariner is the story of his own harrowing experience brought about because of the death of an albatross. The story shows how the crew was punished because they did not heed the portents of the sea and because they placed their lives above that of a protected creature, the bird that serves as an omen and so that has a more direct connection with the universe than do human beings. The killing of this bird is a crime, and much of the poem is then taken up with the expiation of that crime by the suffering Mariner and his crew.

The Mariner tells his story to a Wedding Guest, and the fact that he chooses this person to relate his tale to is important. We know that the Mariner selected this person, "one of three," and that he insists on telling his story even though the guest is reluctant to hear it. Yet the Mariner clearly believes it more important that the guest hear this story, and he stops the man and makes him listen. The story is a cautionary tale to point out the moral that everything in the world is inter-related and that we cannot separate human beings from the animal kingdom.

Clearly, the moral delivered relates to the story the Mariner tells and to the man he used to be. He relates that tale directly to the wedding by noting that it is sweeter to him than the wedding feast simply to be with other people, given his loneliness on the ship when he had no companion at all but God. He now must tell his tale over and over again, and he knows by the face of the man he meets that this is the person to whom he must tell it this time. The Mariner is a man who has experienced terrible isolation, and now he seeks out others to relate his story and to w...

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"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:26, August 03, 2020, from