How is the theme of imprisionment depicted throughout "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Note the way that the theme of imprisonment enters this excellent poem immediately after the Mariner shoots the albatross. Note the way in which the action of the Mariner effectively imprisons the sailors on the ship, as the mystical absence of any wind prevents them from moving:

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

This imprisonment is something that lasts for a very long time, until after the Mariner's curse is expiated. Note the way that he, after all of his fellow sailors die, is imprisoned on the ship by himself and left to face the ghoulish and nightmarish events that happen around him. Even after he gets back safely to land, and watches the destruction of his ship, he is still "imprisoned" as he bears the burden of his experiences, and feels doomed to live his life wandering around recounting his tale:

I pass, like night, from land to land;

I have strange power of speech;

That moment that his face I see,

I konw the man that must hear me:

To him my tale I teach.

From the moment that the Mariner shoots the albatross, therefore, it is obvious that he suffers a feeling of imprisonment. Firstly this is based on the lack of wind that prevents the ship from moving anywhere, and then secondly the way in which his experiences are not forgotten and compel him to wander around the earth and recount his tale.

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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