14 October 2010
The Line of the Ancient Mariner
Attempting To Explain the Unexplainable
Samuel Taylor Coleridge declares an argument in Part One of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner of what is to come of The Mariner and his crew.
“How a Ship having passed the Line was driven by storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole; and how from thence she made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country.”(Coleridge II, 235)
Coleridge stated in Biographia Literaria that he originally wanted to illustrate a disordered universe, “the incidents ...view middle of the document...
”(Kellor 138) These are the strange things Coleridge explained in his opening argument. By using a rushed meter the reader is forced along in a fast paced curiosity that keeps him in suspense and disbelief as one event after another comes about for the crew. (Kellor 138) Once the ship has sailed past “the Line” the use of logic begins to fail for the crew. After the albatross brings them from the icy waters the crew deduces it brought the good tidings. However, after The Mariner kills the bird, for which no logical reason is given, the crew is left to reason that The Mariner has brought ill will to the ship. Yet, after the sun begins to shine, the crew believes he was correct for doing so. The next illogical judgment comes from the appearance of the ghost ship. Although, they are in a barren and unknowing world, the mariner assumes this new ship on the horizon will lead to safety. Instead the ship brings about death for the crew after the two spectral images aboard the ship cast dice to determine the crews fate. McKellor tells us that it is important to recognize “that the fate of both The Mariner and crew have been decided wholly by chance.” The dice game is another example of reason being lost. There is no logical or moral consequences preceding the events of the dice roll. (Kellor 139) Just as when The Mariner kills the albatross, no logical reason is given as to why Death wishes to kill the crew or why Life-In-Death wishes to keep The Mariner alive. After the mariner is left with the bodies of the crew and their condemning stare he does not remove the albatross from his neck. Instead he begins to feel guilty and eventually is able to pray which helps his burdens fall away including the albatross. He begins to live a life of penance hoping to be forgiven of his crimes. It seems strange that The Mariner is still attempting to make logical decisions such as penance after all the illogical and “supernatural” events. His actions may be for nothing since all the events surrounding the trip for The Mariner were illogical, unreasonable, and unnatural.
The Rime of Ancient Mariner is often thought of as a Christian poem largely due to the gloss Coleridge added to the poem 20 years after its first publication. John Beer says that he feels The Mariner is religious, whoever, he feels that it is a “superstitious religion; and the religion which he recommends at the end is more than a generalized religion of love.” Beer tells us that the events we see in the poem show what happens to a man who does not honor the “play of life” of a single creature. He then finds himself “exposed to the energies of the universe at their most destructive.” Beer says that what The Mariner learns in the “roots of his being, when he contrives to bless the water snakes as he delights in their energies, is that through such love the existence of an order of love in the universe at large can be discovered”. (Beer 167-168) Even with this explanation we still can not figure...