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Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is an exercise in human psychology....

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shewa55 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted February 2, 2013 at 3:46 PM via web

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Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is an exercise in human psychology. Discuss with reference to the context.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 3, 2013 at 7:19 AM (Answer #1)

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The way in which this poem can be viewed as an exercise in human psychology relies entirely on the context of the framing narrative, where the Mariner stops the wedding guest from entering the wedding to tell him his tale. The impact that this tale has on the wedding guest and the way in which the wedding guest changes his opinion of the Mariner is important to consider in response to this question. At the beginning of the poem, it is clear that the wedding guest thinks that the Mariner is something of a crazy man who he tries to have no time for. He calls the Mariner a "grey-beard loon" and knocks his hands away when the Mariner seeks to detain him. However, the wedding guest is soon "transfixed" as if he were a "three years' child" by the "glittering eye" of the Mariner, and is compelled to listen. By the end of the tale, the wedding guest has not gone to the wedding at all, but he does realise that he has learnt something very powerful and important from the story:

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.
 
The poem thus occupies itself with the psychology of humans and this is expressed in the way that the wedding guest is so transfixed with the tale that the Mariner tells him. Not only does the wedding guest completely change his opinion of the Mariner, he also realises that the Mariner's tale contains significant truth that changes him irrevocably. This is the context of the poem that points towards what it shows about human psychology.

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