The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Questions and Answers
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," give 3 examples of imagery and 3 examples of personification that support the theme: "He prayeth well, who loveth well / Both man and bird and beast. / He prayeth best, who loveth best / All things both great and small." 

Expert Answers info

Rebecca Hope eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write1,505 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Coleridge's poem is rich with imagery and contains interesting uses of personification as it develops the theme of respect and love of nature, especially living creatures. Imagery is description that appeals to the senses; personification gives human characteristics to non-human things or animals, or animal traits to inanimate objects.

Sound imagery occurs in lines 61 - 62, speaking of the ice: "It cracked and growled, and roared and howled, like noises in a swound!" In this dire state the crew first meets the albatross, and they treat it "as if it had been a Christian soul," displaying the proper attitude, according to the poem's theme. Because of that, the ship breaks free of the ice.

The intensity of the sailors' thirst when they are caught in the doldrums is another powerful use of imagery: "With throats unslaked, with black lips baked, we could nor laugh nor wail; through utter drought all dumb we stood! I bit my arm, I sucked the blood." This is part of their punishment for killing (and approving the killing of) the albatross.

Visual imagery describes the water snakes in lines 279 - 281: "Blue, glossy green, and velvet black, they coiled and swam; and every track was a flash of golden fire." The love that springs up in the mariner because of the beauty of the water snakes is what redeems him for his sin of killing the sea bird.

The wind and the sun are personified in the poem. Although they are not "creatures," personifying them advances the poem's theme of reverence for nature. In lines 179 - 180, the sun behind the ghost ship is described as a prisoner's face: "As if through a dungeon-grate he peered with broad and burning face." The wind is described as a powerful ruler that has "o'ertaking wings" in lines 41 - 42: "And now the storm-blast came, and he was tyrannous and strong." 

Line 282 contains a pathetic fallacy, a type of personification that attributes emotion to a creature that cannot feel emotion in order to establish a mood: "O happy living things!" This ascribes happiness to the water snakes, a way of elevating them to the level the poem's theme espouses. This is the point where the mariner redeems his past sin by loving and blessing the creatures God made.

Coleridge uses both imagery and personification to advance his theme of respect and love for all of God's creatures. 

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial