Rime Of Ancient Mariiner Essay

1771 words - 8 pages

The Rime of the Ancient Marnier
Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” has been widely discussed throughout literary history. In this story, the Mariner and his crew travel around the world and then return to England. Although critics have come up with several different interpretations of this poem, one idea that has remained prevalent throughout these discussions is the apparent religious symbolism present throughout this story. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” contains natural, romantic, and biblical symbolism that works to create an image of pure genius. The religious and natural symbolisms, which coincide with one another, act as the most important elements ...view middle of the document...

In addition, Coleridge could not associate the murder of the Albatross with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The reader is told that the Spirit “loved the bird that loved the man who shot him with his bow” (404-405). It is doubtful that someone with Coleridge's Christian background and faith could fail to see here an analogy with God who loved his son who loved the men that killed him. When the Mariner impulsively kills the bird, Coleridge is referring to how Christ was crucified for similar reasons. The Albatross is hung around the Mariner's neck like a crucifix. Even the “cross” in “cross-bow” hints at the murder of Jesus. Logically, this subtle hint places the Albatross as a symbol for Christ.
Coleridge depicts spiritual places in his work. He displays the South Pole as a symbol of Hell. Coleridge tells, “And now the storm-blast came, and he was tyrannous and strong: He struck with his o'ertaking wings, and chased us south along” (42-44). The crew cannot see a wind that is pulling them toward the South Pole. It seems, instead, that an unseen force is pulling them in that direction. The unseen force is a symbol to Satan lure people toward Hell. Coleridge is showing how the world's temptations lure one to Hell. Coleridge showed a lack of love and compassion when he shot the Albatross and his actions were leading him to Hell. However, just as they get close, the spirit of the Albatross, leads them back to safety. Coleridge says, “At length did cross an Albatross, thorough the fog it came; as it had been a Christian soul, we hailed it in God's name” (63-66). The Albatross still loves the Mariner even after the Mariner shot it. Because the Albatross still loves the Marnier, he attempts to direct him toward England. Likewise, England symbolizes Heaven in the story. When the Mariner first sees his country, a great sense of hope and joy overcomes him. Coleridge does this in order to express a fundamental fact of Christian faith, the soul’s admission into heaven. The Mariner is about to enter England on his ship. Thus, the Marnier is about to enter Heaven. However based on Christian belief, only the soul may enter Heaven. Thus, the body must die in order to allow the soul’s passage. For this reason, the ship sinks. When the Pilot and his boy see the ship sinking, they go to retrieve the Mariner, just as angels retrieve a newly departed soul and carry it to Heaven.
Scholars believe that Coleridge deliberately created these symbols and images with Christian meaning in mind. The Apocalypse is reflected upon throughout this poem. Coleridge combines the vivid colors, the ocean, and the death fires of “The Ancient Mariner” with the terror and desolation of the days of wrath of the Apocalypse throughout the writing. The segment of the poem after the Mariner kills the Albatross is a description of the emptiness and desolation that the Mariners experience, and the curse that is over the ship. Coleridge writes,
“The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,...

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