illustration of the Ancient Mariner in the ocean with an albatross tied around his neck

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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What impression do you form of the ancient mariner from the poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"?

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The character of the Ancient Mariner is presented to us on two levels. There is the external impression that we get of him from the Wedding Guest's viewpoint as a physically imposing, rather intense and terrifying figure; the Wedding Guest is rather scared of him. But we also get his own story, from his younger days, in which he appears initially as a thoughtless and rather hot-headed man, shooting an albatross during a voyage at sea, for no real reason. The terrifying supernatural events that follow this, however, have the effect of transforming him and making him realise that he should think before he acts and treat all living things with respect. Overall, the impression we have of him is that he is a wise (if rather intimidating) elderly and experienced seafarer who has learned an important lesson, which he is eager to pass on to members of the younger generation, like the Wedding Guest.

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