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Theme presented in
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Coleridges poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, illustrates his apparent belief in Christian redemption and manís redeemable qualities. The poem also seems to suggest that Coleridge believed life and poetry both follow a cyclical pattern. The story is about a manís literal voyage and a spiritual journey and how they parallel each other. On these journeys Coleridge imaginatively explores the supernatural and makes the story and the Mariners experiences more interesting. The Mariner experiences moral error, due suffering, and a consequent change of heart in his journey.
In the first part of the story, the Mariner and his crew come across an albatross, a "pious good omen," "That made the wind blow," an inherently supernatural quality. The crew of the ship welcome it "As if it had been a Christian soul, We hailed it in Godís name." The Mariner, however, is mustering pride and decides to shoot the Albatross with his crossbow. In doing this he illustrates his belief that he does not need the good luck of the albatross. He also elucidates his readiness too severe his bonds with the universal cycle of life and love. Following his execution of the albatross, his luck suddenly changes.
His luck indeed seems to change, and the Mariner experiences the punishment that comes with the moral error of killing the Albatross--isolation and alienation from everything but himself. Then, the "Nightmare," the life in death, kills his crew. He is lost at sea, left alone in the night to suffer, and he has detached from his natural cycle. The Mariner proclaims his misery when he says: "Alone, alone, all, all alone, Alone on a wide wide sea! And never a saint took pity on My soul in agony." To the Mariner, nature has become foreign. This is a very low point in his spiritual journey.
The Mariner then has a reversal of sentiment. While looking at the stars and the moon, the Mariner notices that the stars have a place in the sky, and they belong to a set position; the moon, however does not, and is on a journey, just like the Mariner. It is then that the Mariner decides to accept everything around him as beautiful, and a natural course of action takes place and his bonds with the cycle of life are recreated, setting him back on course on his literal voyage to his own country, where he ends up thus completing his voyage and his journey.
While suffering for his moral error of having the pride to kill the albatross, the Mariner blesses everything from his heart and lives on to tell the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, traveling from country to country, helping people to keep away from his path of life and to accept everything as a cyclical path that leads to success in life. Through moral error, due suffering, and a reversal of opinion, the Mariner completes his literal voyage through the supernatural and his spiritual journey through the physical.
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Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Albatross, The Ancient Mariner, Rime, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in popular culture, Simon Hatley
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