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In the Rime of the ancient Mariner, what is the moral of the poem?This old guy comes to...

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hum200 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 12, 2009 at 11:24 AM via web

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In the Rime of the ancient Mariner, what is the moral of the poem?

This old guy comes to the wedding, the "guest" listens to his tales and then is not able to go back to his own wedding.  Why?  What is the point of the story told at a wedding?

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kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted October 12, 2009 at 12:13 PM (Answer #1)

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According to most interpretations, this long poem is a christian allegory. For example, when he is out to sea all the crew members die but him, the Mariner. For 7 days and 7 nights he has visions of the dead. This is an allusion to the 40 days and 40 nights in the bible, that the followers of God experienced in the Exodus.

In the poem, the Mariner's curse is lifted when he sees sea creatures swimming in the water, even though he criticised them earlier in the poem. (Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs / upon the slimy sea), he discovers their beauty(a spring of love gush'd from my heart ...) He prays and the albatross falls from his neck and he no longer feels guilt.  The crew members reappear--from the dead-- and are in good spirits.A hermit who had seen the ship from a distance, and had come to meet it falls into the water.They pull him from the water, thinking he's dead but he is not. He prays, and the Mariner picks up the oars to row. They think the Mariner is the devil,saying "The Devil knows how to row." The Mariner is forced to wander the earth and tell his story, and teach a lesson to those he meets:

He prayeth best, who loveth bestAll things both great and small;For the dear God who loveth us,He made and loveth all.

The mariner is like a christ figure. He must return to the earth and save people. The moral is to be like a christ figure, to suffer day and night to overcome in order to be absolved from guilt.

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted October 12, 2009 at 1:44 PM (Answer #2)

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Yes, all kimfuji says I agree with, but we need to back up a bit. The Ancient Mariner's enlightenment begins when he carelessly kills the albatross:

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner's hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke   white,
Glimmered the white moonshine."

`God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends that plague thee thus! -
Why look'st thou so?' -"With my crossbow
I shot the Albatross."

It was after that when everything began to fall into ruin and death for all but the lone Mariner. Eventually, after suffering and inner struggle, he saw the truth: that all life is to be respected, no matter how gross or slimy or seemingly foul. You don't just go kill a creature of God's making because you have nothing better to do. I don't know about the rest of you, but I even have trouble killing bees and mosquitos. And part of my reluctance to do so comes from what I learned from this poem when I first read it back in tenth grade. Thank you Mr. Beale, wherever you are!

Remember now: the Ancient Mariner stops a wedding guest who is about to go into a wedding. The Mariner holds the guest with his skinny hand and a story that has to be told. And in a way, the story is about a marriage, a wedding of sorts... wherein a man comes to realize that he is one with all life on earth.

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