The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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What is the main idea of 'The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' by S. T. Coleridge?

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Readers should consider that Samuel Taylor Coleridge is an author of the Romanticism movement. As such, imagination, emotion, and a respect and reverence for nature are all important beliefs of his that come through in his writings. "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is no exception, and the message of the poem is not deeply veiled in mystery. When a reader considers that all of the horrible things that befell the mariner and his shipmates was a consequence of the mariner shooting and killing the albatross, it makes sense to say that the message of the poem strongly emphasizes that man should always seek to respect and love nature in order to be a part of it, rather than try to subdue it and conquer it. Coleridge is quite blatant about his message as well. The poem tells a great story that sells the message, but Coleridge doesn't leave anything to question based on a closing stanza.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
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The main idea of this poem is a moral message, warning against thoughtless and foolhardy actions such as the one the Mariner performs in shooting the albatross. The albatross had done the Mariner no harm at all; in fact it seems it had helped to guide his ship, so that his wanton killing of it appears even more inexcusable.

 The poem shows the terrible consequences of such a foolish and cruel act, when the Mariner loses his crew and finds himself alone and doomed to wander the earth, telling people like the young Wedding Guest his woeful story and warning them to always think before they act.

A subsidiary theme of the poem is that one should respect nature and all living things. The Mariner never gives any reason for shooting the albatross;it seems as if he does so simply because he has the power to do so. However, the swift vengeance that follows shows how wrong it is to break man’s communion with nature in this fashion. The Mariner sums up this lesson as follows:

He prayeth best, who loveth best

All things great and small;

For the dear God who loveth us,

He made and loveth all. (614-617)

This quote takes on a distinctly religious aspect, directly referring to God and conjuring up a picture of a joyful, harmonious world of universal love. The Mariner has suffered grievously in going against this ideal and serves as a living example of folly.

The central message of the poem, then, is quite a simple one, but it is dressed up in the memorable guise of a vivid supernatural tale which has helped to ensure its popularity to this day. 

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