The rime of ancient mariner (Samuel T. Coleridge 1798)


Content:

-The Rime of the Ancient Mariner tells about the adventure of a seaman that is the narrator of the story.


Atmosphere:

-The atmosphere of the whole poem is full of mystery because of the combination of supernatural elements (the albatross, the ghost-ship, water-snakes, the sea) with gothic elements (the ancient mariner, Life-in-Death, Death, phantom ship) deals with a “semblance of truth”;

-the presence of spirits and angels also contribute to create a magical atmosphere;

-this is reinforced by the language used by Coleridge, rich of sound effect, internal rhymes and personifications.


Language:

-is caracterised by a frequent use of sound effects, internal rhymes, similes, allitterations, repetitions and personifications;

-is archaic and takes inspiration from old ballads.


Old ballads:

-This poem contains many of the features traditionally associated with ballads:

the language*,

stanzas with four lines,

the mix between narration and dialogue,

the rime scheme ABAB,

what differs his ballad from the old one is the presence of a moral at the end.


Themes:

-death as the conclusive process of guilt, punishment and redemption;

-the power of imagination and his visions, that is developed with the the “rational” imagination of the author and of the boatman but also an “irrational” imagination of the second one. (rational and irrational as wanted and unwanted);

-the love for God, that has to be dealt with love for all the creatures and things “created by God”.


The mariner:

-is a character mostly passive, in fact he is himself only three times:

when he kills the albatross (unexplainable action),

when he blesses the water-snakes (it’s an unconscious action which turns out to be for his own good),

when he bites his own arm (it’s a conscious action which brings further disaster);


Interpretations:

-This poem has been interpreted in many ways:

-it can represents an allegory of the life of the soul;

-or may be also the description of a dream;

-the interpretation most relevant is the vision of the poem as a description of the poetic journey of Romanticism. (the mariner is the poet and his guilt is the lost innocence caused by the Industrial Revolution).

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