The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge - Book Report/Review Example

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Written during the romantic period and first published in 1798, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a seven-part narrative poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is an unforgettable literary piece. The story of a sailor who encounters terrible misfortunes on his journey with his crew mates aboard their ship primarily for killing an albatross, still resonates of age-old sin-and-punishment thematic content that is captivating to modern readers…
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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge
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Download file to see previous pages Like the Wedding Guest who is the first to speak a line in the first part of the poem by asking why the mariner detains him, the reader is immediately drawn by the eerie contrasts of the strange and solitary mariner with a "a glittering eye" (Coleridge Part 1, Stanza.1) and his sudden appearance within a very social occasion as a wedding. Coleridge all throughout the poem sets a tone of extreme passions - dreadful fear, ecstatic revelations and preponderant guilt and sorrow. Together with the mariner's very personal and intense storytelling about his ordeal coupled with the gothic and passionate tone of the poem, the supernatural element is brought to fore.
With the exception of an omniscient narrator that intersperse minimally with the flow of the mariner's tale, and a few lines uttered by minor characters such as the wedding guest or the spirits - the poem is entirely a personal "I" account of the mariner's and that of his crew mates' journey and what happened after he killed the Albatross, a sea bird which represents good fortune among seafarers. Herein, the very personal nature of the narrative attests to the romantic period's focus with the individual and "subjectivity of experience" (Gradesaver website, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Study Guide", no author, n.p.). The interest of romanticism as the poem shows is to highlight intense personal experiences as what the Ancient Mariner went through. With their intensity, the natural, objective world slips into a sphere that borders on the supernatural. Even the Albatross represents a spiritual realm which looks over and blesses mankind: "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." (Coleridge Part 1, Stanza 16). After the benign seabird is shot by the Ancient Mariner for no explicable reason except probably on a whim, the main character recounts the ship crew's nightmarish encounter with the sun, the sea and its "slimy creatures" in their otherworldly, ghastly aspects. The sea, the natural companion of seafarers, in particular took a fiendish turn according to the Ancient Mariner: "Water, water, every where, / And all the boards did shrink ; / Water, water, every where, / Nor any drop to drink. (Part II Stanza 9) / The very deep did rot : O Christ ! / That ever this should be ! / Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs / Upon the slimy sea." (Part II Stanza 10).
Told from the personal point of view of the actual person who suffers, Coleridge's poem typifies the "liminal" state of mind favored by Romantic poets. Accordingly, a liminal space is defined "as a place on the edge of a realm or between two realms, whether a forest and a field, or reason and imagination" (Gradesaver website, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Study Guide, no author). The Ancient Mariner who relates that while all the rest of the sailors died of thirst as a punishment for the killing of the Albatross, he was cast into a purgatory-like state, neither dead nor living. In a game of dice as if to cast a paradox, Death chose the ship's crew while Life-in-Death, in the form of a woman got the Ancient Mariner who was the one responsible for shooting the Albatross. The Ancient Mari ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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