In "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," when the albatross falls from his neck, is the Mariner free from suffering?

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

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I edited your question to make it slightly clearer, so I hope it still asks the original question that you wanted to ask on enotes. It is clear that the albatross was hung on the Mariner's neck as a form of penance or punishment for what he did in killing the bird in the first place. This act of violence and destruction against nature is what triggers off the series of terrible events that occur to the Mariner and his fellow sailors on their ship. However, when he is able to bless the water snakes and appreciate their beauty, the albatross falls off his neck of its own accord, and suddenly he is able to pray again:

The selfsame moment I could pray;

And from my neck so free

The Albatross fell off , and sank

Like lead into the sea.

This of course does symbolise the breaking of the spell or enchantment, but you would be wrong to assume that this also indicates an end to the suffering of the Mariner. He still has to get back to shore, and then once there he is subject to "agonies" that force him to recount his tale and share his experience with others, doomed to wander the earth:

Since then, at an uncertain hour,

That agony returns:

And till my ghastly tale is told,

This heart within me burns.


I pass, like night, from land to land;

I have strange power of speech;

That moment that his face I see,

I know the man that must hear me:

To him my tale I teach.

So, although he does make it back to shore, the rest of his life is hardly free from suffering. He is doomed to wander the planet and is subject to agony, forced to re-live and re-tell his experience to select hearers so they can learn from the Mariner's experience.

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