How Are Ideas Of Salvation Explored In 'the Rime Of Ancient Mariner'?

2079 words - 9 pages

Through stages of penance, repentance, absolution and redemption, Coleridge is able to depict the idea of salvation in 'The Rime of Ancient Mariner'. The question remaining in the responders mind, however, is whether or not the ancient mariner has reached salvation and why the spirit is compelling him to keep retelling the story of his journey. This seems to generate the idea that the ancient mariner cannot reach full salvation until he has told his story to as many people as possible. Albeit, Coleridge is conducting the idea that elements of salvation are to be found in nature, following the typical Romantic poet's ideal, but this is only part of the key to reaching salvation. Coleridge ...view middle of the document...

" The Albatross was thought to bring miraculous works as the ice begins to split when the Albatross arrives, proving to the crew that it brings good things and most importantly for the crew...good luck. Yet the ancient mariner is driven to kill this "Christian soul" and therefore has sinned against God "With my cross-bow I shot the Albatross." This act of sin leads the ancient mariner on to stages of penance, repentance, absolution and finally redemption but whether or not it follows on to means of salvation remains in question as the ancient mariner is still telling his story.Part II is the introduction of the concepts through which salvation needs to be achieved. However, the contemplation of the crew is first addressed. After shooting the Albatross "all averred, I had killed the bird That made the breeze to blow. Ah wretch! Said they, the bird to slay, that made the breeze to blow!" but the attitude is soon changed when the sun could be seen by the crew "Then all averred, I had killed the bird That brought the fog and mist. 'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay, That bring the fog and mist." By praising the ancient mariner for killing one of "God's creatures" they too have condemned themselves into punishment, providing a rationale for their deaths later in the poem they die. Coleridge has used repetition to emphasise this point. The realisation of killing the Albatross is a sin is part of the stage of repentance. Although this is an aspect of the way to salvation, the crew immediately shelve the blame to the ancient mariner so therefore are not truly repentant. Hence, the first stage of penance is undergone by the ancient mariner "Instead of the cross, the Albatross About my neck was hung." This proves not only to be an act of penance but a punishment that becomes a burden to the ancient mariner and the crew of the ship. Although the crew men believe they have passed the guilt onto the ancient mariner it appears that they are wrong as it is only the ancient mariner that makes it through the voyage as he faces penance. Yet whether or not he achieves salvation still remains questionable.Coleridge shows the next stage of penance with the crew dropping dead "Four times fifty living men, (And I heard nor sigh nor groan) With heavy thump, a lifeless lump, They dropped down one by one" yet he was left alive. This is due to the fact that the ancient mariner alone was placed with the guilt by the crew and the ancient mariner was undergoing repentance while the others were denying their part in praising the mariner for his sin. The ancient mariner finds himself "Alone, alone, all, all alone, Alone on a wide wide sea!" with Coleridge emphasising the point with repetition the most powerful technique used in the poem to add emphasis. The ancient mariner cannot find salvation anywhere. His ultimate punishment is being cut off from nature, "I looked upon the rotting sea and drew my eyes away I looked upon the rotting deck, And there the dead men lay"...

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