What mood does Shelley create by alluding to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By alluding to this famous poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley creates a mood of foreboding, but ultimately it is optimistic. Early on, Captain Walton writes to his sister, saying,

"I am going to unexplored regions, to 'the land of mist and snow;' but I shall kill no albatross, therefore do not be alarmed for my safety."

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" tells the story of an old sailor who, on a long voyage, killed an albatross and brought down a curse upon himself and the crew of his ship.  He tells the story of his misfortune to whomever needs to hear it and learn from it in order to avoid tragedy in their own life. Once Victor is introduced and he begins to tell his tragic story, one that he brought upon himself just as the mariner did, it begins to seem as though hearing Victor's story may prove efficacious for Walton if and when he must make a decision to avert potential tragedy.  This is what happens in the end, when Walton makes the difficult decision to return home at his crew's request rather than risk their lives for the sake of his own pride.  Although he sees this as a tragedy for him, Walton has clearly learned from both the mariner and Victor's stories, and this is a positive thing.

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