How is the theme of retribution depicted in the epic poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would want to respond to this question by focusing on the way the Mariner himself receives the retribution of nature for what he does in his foolish act of killing the albatross. We can see that this act of meaningless violence against nature has an immediate impact on the Mariner and his fellow sailors, as is shown in the following stanza:

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.

The subsequent trials and tribulations that the Mariner and his fellow crewmen suffer, which include the death of all of the other sailors, are part of nature's retribution against the Mariner for what he had done and the way that he had abused nature and exploited it. First of all, there is no breeze whatsoever, and then "slimy things" come up from the detphs of the ocean. These trials continue until the Mariner is able to bless nature in a different form, and thus break the curse that hangs around him. However, retribution is a central theme of this poem and occupies a major part of the poem.

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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