illustration of the Ancient Mariner in the ocean with an albatross tied around his neck

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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What happens to the crew after the Mariner kills the albatross?

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After the mariner shoots the albatross, the crew is upset with him because they believe that the bird caused the breeze to blow. The crew is then stuck in the doldrums, and their ship does not move. Coleridge writes: "Day after day, day after day, / We stuck, nor breath nor motion; / As idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean." In other words, their ship became as still as a painted ship, as it could not move without any wind to stir it. The men on the boat are parched without any access to drinking water, though sea water surrounds them everywhere.

Later, a ship appears on the distant horizon, and then the crew passes by a boat in which Death and a woman named "Life-in-Death," with skin as white as if she had been stricken with leprosy, are the only passengers. Immediately afterward, all 200 crew members except the mariner drop dead. Though the men all die, the mariner lives on in agony.

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After the Mariner shoots and kills the albatross, the rest of the crew hang the albatross around the Mariner's neck to symbolize and punish the sailor for his crime, which they believe is responsible for their declining fortunes on the windless sea. After idling for some time, the Mariner and the rest of the crew encounter a ghostly ship carrying Death and his mate, an equally terrifying woman. This woman brings about the death of every member of the crew except for the Mariner, leaving him alone and isolated. As such, after the Mariner kills the albatross, the rest of the crew suffers death at the hands of ghostly and supernatural figures. However, this is not technically the last we see of the crew, as their dead bodies are fantastically animated with supernatural powers to sail the Mariner home later on in the poem.

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