Why does Coleridge repeat the lines "he cannot choose, but her" and "I fear thee ancient mariner"?
Coleridge repeats the lines for emphasis, to show how deeply involved the wedding guest is in the story being told. The guest can hear the wedding beginning, but is rooted to the spot by the tale the mariner tells. Not the music, the laughter, or the sound of the guests' voices can tear him away from the sad and eerie tale. As the guest listens, he fears the mariner might be an evil spirit or ghost bent on taking his soul. The mariner tells the listener he is neither to soothe his fears and keep him listening. The guest must have something in common with the mariner that the old sailor must save him from by telling his tale of woe. The wedding guest is saved from the mariner's fate when Coleridge tells the reader the guest arose a sadder but wiser man.