In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, how does the Mariner continue to show remorse in Part IV?Why is he unable to pray? What act causes him to be able to pray?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In Part IV, the Mariner's soul is "in agony" (line 32).  He views himself as unworthy to count himself among humankind, calling the men who died "so beautiful" (line 33), while comparing himself to "the thousand thousand slimy things" that, like him, live on (lines 34-35). He expresses his remorse by trying to pray, but finds that he cannot because his heart is "dry as dust" (line 44). Because he has killed the albatross, the mariner has cut himself off from the natural world; he is disconnected from life; his spirit is dead. In his suffering, he wishes he would die, but he cannot even do that. He is doomed to endure the "curse in a dead man's eye" for "seven days and seven nights" (lines 57-58).

At the end of this period of unrelenting suffering, the Mariner is granted a reprieve of sorts. As he stands alone on the ship and watches the water-snakes swimming in the moonlight, he is struck by their beauty. He describes their movements and colors and says,

"O happy living things! No tongue

Their beauty might declare:

A spring of love gushed from my heart,

And I blessed them unaware" (lines 271-82).

Through his heartfelt appreciation of the natural world, the Mariner's isolation is relieved. The albatross falls off his neck into the sea, and the Mariner, reborn, finds he can pray again.

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