What is the connection between the narrator and the ship in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear from the poem that the link or connection between the Mariner and his ship is illustrated in the way that when the Mariner kills the fated albatross, the whole ship, including all of its crew is punished for the deed of this one man. It is this act that results in the disappearance of the wind that had been ensuring their good journey, and the other sailors make this link explicit:

And I had done a hellilsh thing,

And it would work 'em woe:

For all averred, I had killed the bird

That made the breeze to blow.

Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,

That made the breeze to blow!

As a result, in one of the famous stanzas of this poem, the ship and all its crew are left stranded in the middle of the sea without any wind to help them on their way:

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

Note how the repetition and the comparison to a picture of a ship intensifies the feeling of claustrophobia and of being trapped in this situation. The Polar Spirit, a spirit that represents nature itself, thus punishes the entire ship, including the Mariner, for his transgression. Even at the end, after the curse has apparently been expiated, the ship is still completely destroyed in a whirlpool, leaving no trace of it left on the earth.

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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