In what ways does the albatross's arrival seem to affect the trips voyage?

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," the albatross seems to cause the rescue of the ship.  The poem reads:

"At length did cross an Albatross,

Thorough [through] the fog it came;

As if it had been a Christian soul,

We hailed it in God's name.


"It ate the food it ne'er had eat,

And round and round it flew.

The ice did split with a thunder-fit;

The helmsman steered us through!


"And a good south wind sprung up behind;

The Albatross did follow,

And every day, for food or play,

Came to the mariner's hollo!

It seems, then, to the sailors, that the albatross causes their rescue. 

Of course, the "...ancient Mariner..." puts an end to that by shooting the albatross.  This immediately changes the fortunes of the ship and its sailors.

The idea seems to be that the Mariner's act was a failure to respect nature and life.  He kills the bird for no apparent reason.  He kills the bird just for sport or fun.

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This part of the poem is about respect. It is also about ignorance. The colours and atmosphere are important too, in the poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The colours evoked by fog, mist and sea haze, and also the colour of the albatross are pale whites and creams. This makes the albatross seem innocent, pure and trusting and it's shape must have also appered as a cross (similar to the Christian symbol of goodness - the crucifix.) So, the ancient mariner murdered a trusting innocent being - and what is worse - he has no defence as the bird had no means of hurting him. To kill innocence is the worst crime and the sailors were sure to get no luck for the 'sin' of one became the sin of all. They were all doomed on the voyage by the act of one.

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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