What are the consequences of the Mariner’s being won by Life-in-Death rather than by Death?

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The Mariner pays for his folly—the thoughtless killing of the albatross, a good-luck bird for seamen—in a horrible manner. While he and his shipmates are waiting, becalmed and slowly dying of thirst, they see a ship approaching. At first they rejoice, thinking it has come to save them. However, as...

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The Mariner pays for his folly—the thoughtless killing of the albatross, a good-luck bird for seamen—in a horrible manner. While he and his shipmates are waiting, becalmed and slowly dying of thirst, they see a ship approaching. At first they rejoice, thinking it has come to save them. However, as the ship comes closer, they see that it isn't salvation at all. Rather, the opposite. It is a ghost ship, crewed by the dead, all women. The captain, a terribly beautiful pale lady, is Life-In-Death.

Death is simple and direct. It claims all the sailors, except the Mariner himself. He alone survives; we could say he was won by Life-In-Death, but as the poem continues it seems he might rather have died with the others. What follows is a description of the Mariner's gruesome experiences. Surrounded by dead men, who reanimate to crew the ship in silence, and alone in the midst of a "slimy" sea, the Mariner survives almost in spite of himself. Finally he hears conversations between some heavenly, disembodied voices, and only then does he understand the reason he has survived.

At the end, he is tasked to carry on the story and share it with others wherever he goes. The Wedding-Guest is one such listener. After hearing the Mariner's tale, he understands the peril of the sea in a visceral way. Most importantly, by equating the carrying of the dead albatross with Christ's cross, the theme of redemption is brought home.

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