Rime of the Ancient Mariner Commentary
Andrew Vollen English Commentary ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1791. He was part of the Romantic Era in literature. The ballad is about a Mariner who shoots an albatross, and is cursed forever. This essay will analyze part the seventh. In this extract the Mariner is talking to a Hermit about his travels and the effect it had on him. In the extract he begins by describing the Mariner’s repentance and catharsis doings. He later creates a juxtaposition, with a structural shift, between the horrible pain he felt and the happy wedding.
Throughout the extract the writer uses religious symbols surrounding his pain or the wedding. This extract is significant in the ballad, because he describes why he is forcing people to listen to his story. It brings a full circle to the ballad, and it returns to the wedding. The Mariner has arrived in England, and he was spotted by a curious Hermit. The Hermit then questions who he is, and he describes the pain he feels. These stanzas are from the middle of part the seventh. Coleridge writes, “Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched with a woeful agony, which forced me to being my tale; and then it let me free. In the first line Coleridge writes, “this frame of mine. ” This means he does not belong to his own body. This would be done, because he only lives to warn others of his wrong doings. The Mariner, himself, died on the boat, and only his body exists. This connects with the thesis, because he has become his story, and it introduces the pain he has suffered. In the third line of the second stanza Coleridge writes, “which forces me to being my tale;” Here, he is talking about the “woeful agony” he felt as a result of his actions.
His tale is the warning he gives to others who must hear, so they do not make the same mistake. The pain he felt creates, and is the reason for his story. This is the origins of the ballad, because he is talking to the wedding guest as a warning. It is also a reason the extract is so significant, because his connection with the wedding guest being the ballad to a full circle. The story has ended back where it began, therefore it is an epic. In the fourth and final line of the extract he says, “let me free. ” Here, he is referring to the previous line about why he tells his tale.
By telling the tale it releases him from the pain brought upon him. This life and being has become the telling of his tale. When he feels pain, the only way to relieve it is by telling his story. He was cursed by the god Life and Death after he killed the albatross, which causes the curse. Between stanzas four and five, Coleridge switches perspectives from first person to third person. In doing so he creates a juxtaposition between the horrible pain he felt and the happiness of the wedding. From the fourth to the fifth paragraph the Mariner returned to third person.
This caused the scenery of the fifth stanza to change. The reader becomes aware that the ballad has returned to the wedding. This creates a full circle effect, because the ballad has returned to where it began. This makes the ballad an epic, although an epic must include an educational or emotional experience that the main protagonist had. This was an emotional experience that the Mariner had. His life goal has become warning all those who need to hear about his accident. There is another important technique used in the transition from the fourth to the fifth paragraph.
That is the juxtaposition created between the pain of the curse, and the happiness of the wedding. In the third paragraph he describes, “This heart within me burns. ” This describes the immense pain he felt, when the gods want him to tell his story. This pain originally stems from the shooting of the albatross earlier in the ballad. Before this stanza there is no description or understanding of the pain the Mariner has felt all this time. The third and fourth stanzas have a claustrophobic feeling to them, to speed up the reading and create an ending to the Mariner’s story.
In the fifth and sixth stanzas he indicates the change to third person by narrating all of the sounds that are heard. For example, “What loud uproar bursts from that door! ” This makes the reader feel like they are looking in from above. The reader now senses the happiness of the moment by the description of the environment, “And bride-maids singing are; And hark the little vesper bell,” It creates the scene of the wedding, and the church bells ringing. This is a juxtaposition of the stanza before where he is giving the reasons for the pain he has endured.
This connects with the thesis, because the structural shift causes the scenery of the ballad to return to the wedding. This return to the wedding is what causes the full circle effect. Throughout the ballad there are different references to religion, mostly surrounding Jesus and his execution. There are many different religious symbols in part the seventh, whether in this particular extract or through the part. The first stanza there are two instances of religious references. This is when the Mariner has just arrived in England, and is greeted by the Hermit. He says, “O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man! To “shrieve” yourself, is to purify yourself of wrong doings through pain. This is what Jesus did when he was hung from the crucifix, he purified the human race from their sins. By calling the Hermit a “holy man,” he sees everyone that is not himself as heavenly. This shows the pain and suffering he has endured. In the third stanza there is only one religious word. He describes the pain that he feels before he warns someone of his past, “This heart within me burns. ” The word ‘burns’ has a correlation with hell. Here, he writes that his heart is burning in hell.
The fourth stanza is the returning to the wedding, and there is religious symbols. These include, bride, biddeth, and prayer. The bride is seen as a liberator of his suffering, because she is the first person that he sees after the description of his pain. She is performing the most religious deed, marriage. The final line in the stanza says, “Which biddeth me to prayer. ” This means the vesper bells command him to pray. Praying is a completely religious word and action. In the final stanza the author mentions “God” himself. Here, he is commenting how on the boat there seemed to be no presence of God.
This connects with the thesis, because the use of the religious symbols makes him seem more innocent and guilty. He is guiltier, because he shot the albatross which is depicted as a savior. He is more innocent, because of the comparison between the pain Jesus suffered and his suffering. In conclusion, this extract is significant, because of the Mariner’s painful repentance, the structural shift, and religious symbolism. Each one creates a full circle effect, where the ballad returns to the wedding. There is also an explanation of why he is repeating his story to all those who need to hear.