The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What was the Mariner's effect on the wedding guest?

Expert Answers info

cneukam1379 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write170 answers

starTop subject is Literature

In Part IV of the poem, the wedding guest is also afraid of the Mariner.  At this part of the poem, the Mariner has just described how Death came to the ship and took all of the crew.  The wedding guest replies: 

'I fear thee, ancient Mariner! 
I fear thy skinny hand! 
And thou art long, and lank, and brown, 
As is the ribbed sea-sand. 
The wedding guest believes that the Mariner is a ghost because he is so thin and scary looking.  However, the Mariner reassures the wedding guest that Death spared the Mariner.
The wedding guest is also afraid when the Mariner tells him that all of the dead bodies of the crew rose again and helped him to bring the ship home.  The wedding guest again fears that the Mariner is speaking of ghosts (and might still be a ghost, even though the Mariner assured the guest that he was not).  The Mariner assures the guest, "'Twas not those souls that fled in pain, / Which to their corses came again, / But a troop of spirits blest."  These spirits only rise when it is night and will fall again when the sun is up.  
The Mariner then tells the wedding guest: 
I pass, like night, from land to land; 
I have strange power of speech; 
That moment that his face I see, 
I know the man that must hear me: 
To him my tale I teach. 
There was some aspect of the wedding guest that the Mariner saw that tagged the guest as the next person to hear the Mariner's story.  Thus, the guest leaves when the Mariner finishes his tale with the warning "He prayeth well, who loveth well / Both man and bird and beast."  The reader does not understand why the wedding guest needed this lesson, but it must have struck close to home because the poem states that the guest is "stunned" and is a "sadder and a wiser man." 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Rebecca Hope eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write1,493 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," a mariner who has been through a harrowing experience must do penance by wandering the world and telling his tale to the person who needs to hear it. At the beginning of the poem, the mariner accosts one of three guests who are going into a wedding, putting him under a spell so that he must listen to the mariner's story, even though he beats his breast in frustration at not being able to go to his relative's wedding. The first effect the mariner has on the guest is that he mesmerizes the wedding guest.

The second effect is that the wedding guest is stunned by the mariner's facial expression as the mariner gets to the part of the story where he shoots the albatross. 

After hearing the entire tale, the mariner leaves the wedding guest. The wedding guest is so disturbed by the story that he no longer wants to go into the wedding. He leaves as if he is senseless. This could mean that he is numb, or it could mean that his thinking ability has left him. This effect is not permanent, however; the next morning the wedding guest wakes up and is a wiser man for having heard the story, although he also carries a lingering sadness.


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial