The Mariner's Awakening Like the narrator of Tintern Abbey, the mariner in Coleridge'sThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner experiences change in three different stages. The mariner experiences superiority at the South Pole, fear at the Pacific Ocean, and revelation on his journey back to his home country.
In the beginning of the mariner's tale, the mariner and his crew are sailing in the South Pole. They rejoice over the sighting of an Albatross flying overhead. Then, without warning, the mariner "with my cross-bow/I shot the albatross." At first his men chastised him for killing what was thought to be a good omen, but when the fog cleared, they agreed with the shooting. The mariner is comfortable with having killed the albatross because he feels he is superior.
The ship then enters the Pacific Ocean and things begin to go awry. The ship fills with water and begins to rot.
The men are mysteriously silenced. They begin to question the killing of the bird. As these bad things happen, the mariner reflects, "And I had done a hellish thing/And it would work 'em woe/For all averred, I had killed the bird/That made the breeze to blow." The mariner sights two spirits upon a phantom ship and all of his men drop dead. It is in this location that the mariner experiences shame from having the bird hung around his neck and fear from the spirits. It is these spirits and other wonders of the supernatural that help the mariner realize that he is not the most superior.
The mariner's transformation takes place en route back to his homeland. Creatures that he once looked to in disgust and with no reverence, he now beheld in beauty. "O happy living things/Their beauty might declare/A spring of love gushed from my heart/And I blessed them unaware." The mariner then found that he was able to pray and the spell began to break.
Most often, it does take the occurrence of something unfortunate for one to realize what is before them. These revelations therefore occur in stages as evidenced in many of Coleridge's works. In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the mariner experiences changes in three locations and under three circumstances before he is able to truly appreciate the beauty of the nature around him.