"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Essay by omaha00College, Undergraduate February 2006

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Trace the Mariner's guilt/atonement (giving examples oh his sin, punishment, penance and wisdom learned). Pay special attention to the poem's SHIFT and relate it to a major THEME in the poem.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," tells of a journey undergone by a sailor known as the Mariner. The Mariner's journey is not just physical, but of a spiritual nature as well, with the ultimate destination of enlightenment obtained through repentance.

The Mariner's tale begins several days into a voyage at sea. At this point, the Mariner and his crew are overwhelmed by a sudden squall. They are helpless to stop the ship as it is forced by the storm off course, in a southern direction. The ship eventually comes to rest in a region of the South Pole surrounded densely in fog, referred to as the "land of ice, and of fearful sounds, where no living thing was to be seen."

Faced with this predicament the Mariner and his crew are overcome with dismay, but their spirits are soon lifted due the appearance of a great bird of the sea, known as the albatross.

The albatross was hailed as a great boon by the Mariner and his crew. This can be seen when the Mariner says in reference to the albatross, "As if it had been a Christian soul, We hailed it in God's name." After this first encounter, the bird continues to follow the ship as it heads north guided by the south wind. Though, the Mariner gained the trust and friendship of the albatross to the point that it would feed from his hand, he one day, for no plausible reason, strikes down the unsuspecting bird with his crossbow. When the crew first learns of the Mariner's heinous crime their...