What effect do the dead men sailing the ship have on the Mariner in 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'?  

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is in Part Five of this poem, after the Mariner has received his penance and the albatross has fallen from his neck into the sea, that the corpses of his former friends and colleagues revive and start working the ship again. What is interesting to note is that, although the Guest that is hearing this tale is clearly terrified by what he is told, the Mariner reassures him, saying that he did not feel the same fear that the images of zombie-like sailors creates as the Guest does. Note what he says to the Guest:

"Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest!
'Twas not those souls that fled in pain,
Which to their corses came again,
But a troop of spirits blest:

For when it dawned -they dropped their arms,
And clustered round the mast;
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,
And from their bodies passed.

So, although this is obviously a supernatural visitation of some description, the Mariner does not interpret it as an evil one that will result in destruction or further suffering. Instead, he sees it as a good supernatural event, as characterised by the music that these animated corpses produce. Thus strangely we can infer that this gave a feeling of comfort and bliss to the Mariner.

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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