Christian Allegory in "The Rime of an Ancient Mariner"
Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of an Ancient Mariner" is a lyrical ballad that seems more like a miniature epic. However, not only it is a ballad talking about the adventure of an old mariner who is cursed for life because he kills an albatross; deeper than that, it is also a religious allegory conveying numerous themes pertaining to Christianity. On the one hand, if one reads "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" simply as a tale at sea, the poem stands remarkable because of its simple rhyme and easy flow. On the other hand, if one reads deeper into the intricate details, symbolism, themes, and literary aspects, Coleridge will ...view middle of the document...
When things start to fall apart in the ship, and the storm destroys all, the Albatross appears as a good omen that saves the ship from the remnants of the storm. Just as the time when Christ was born and things gradually started to improve, sick people were healed, the blind saw, the deaf heard, and the mute spoke.
"At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came ;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name."
(Mariner, p. 424)
The Albatross leads the ship to its right track, just as Christ leads His followers to heaven. "Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20). However, salvation is not a mate during the trip, for the bird is killed. Another reference of the Albatross to Christ is when the Mariner kills it by a cross-bow, as a symbol of the cross Christ died on. Also, after the murder, guilt strikes him for killing a good spirit: "Instead of the cross, the Albatross/About my neck was hung" (p. 426). Again, referring back to the Holy Bible we see that Judea kills himself because of the great guilt of turning in Christ to the cross and denying his name three times before dawn (just as he was told by the Lord.)
After killing the albatross, a second skeletal ship appears carrying Death and Life-in-Death. This ship represents man's life without Christ; Christianity states that life without religion and faith is void and empty. Hence, the skeletal ship carries death and its partner and reaches for the Mariner, since his life appears to be without Christ, for he kills His symbol.
The Mariner's story can also be related to Cain's, the son of Adam and Eve, who kills his brother. God curses him to forever wander, but marks him with a sign so that no one shall kill him (mark of Cain). The Mariner, here, becomes cursed forever and doesn't die, but lives Life-in-Death, which is much worse that dieing. He is destined to wander around with a burden and narrate his story whenever necessary to make him feel better.
Moving away from symbolism, numerological Christian references are also significant in the ballad. Number three represents The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit (The Holy Trinity), as well as Christ's resurrection on the third day after He got crucified. In the ballad, in Part III, Death-in-Life wins the battle and whistles three times. Furthermore, the Hermit, his son, and the Mariner, together in one boat, are very relevant to the Trinity, where the Hermit and his son are the Father and Son, and the Mariner is the soul (as I had mentioned), the Holy Spirit. Number seven is significant in the Bible because it counts the number of days it took God to create the earth. In the ballad, the Mariner remains afloat for seven days until he gets rescued by...