Describe the medieval element and the romantic element used in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way of analysing the Romantic elements of this incredible poem is looking at the role of nature and how it is shown to exert power over humans. Let us remember that Romanticism was dubbed as a "return to nature" and it emphasised the importance and the role of nature in our lives and how rationalism was taking us away from that. The strident message of this poem, as the Mariner learns to his cost, is that we cannot treat nature in a disrespectful way, as if we do, Nature will wreak her own revenge. Consider what happens straight after the Mariner kills the albatross:

And I had done a hellish thing

And it would work 'em woe:

For 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.

The Mariner, and the Wedding Guest by extension, learns that Nature is not something to be trifled with, or gainsaid or forgotten.

Secondly, considering medieval elements, one of the interesting aspects of this poem is the high number of archaic words, or words that are no longer used in society. Consider the following example:

Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,

The glorious Sun uprist.

"Uprist" is clearly an anachronistic word that is obviously no longer used in English language, yet the use of this poem clearly links it to a medieval past that, as the poem shows, still has an impact on us today.

eggebraaan | Student

Hmm...broadly eh?

Well, Romanticism is described as feeling over fact. The entire poem is clearly imaginative farce with (at the end) clear and to be honest obtrusive moral intentions making it more of a parable. Coleridge used the setting of both wedding and sea, highly romantic scenes, one for its obvious union of a man and women in matrimony as well as the sea which has been considered romantic for just about always. Romanticism also revolves around nature, mysticism, the "overflow" of feeling and a writers need for self-identification. Look for those traits within the poem and you will come to find that every other line is heavily saturated with Romantic notions and description.

As for the Medieval elements I suggest looking at the original text that was so filled with archaic words it was heavily edited to be understood even by the contemporary readers of the time in 1798. Compare this text also to Coleridge's contemporaries of the time such as his good friend William Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy and William Blake. Look at the poem also as an allegory which was a medieval literary device similarly used in Dante's Divine Comedy.

If you mean to separate the two elements good luck! Romanticism was the era of Coleridge, Medievalism was the "shout out" era he used in contrast. But by combining them Coleridge really created his masterpiece, I believe he meant them to compliment one another.

Hope that helps at least a little!

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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