The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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At a Glance

  • In "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," sin separates God from man and prevents the Mariner from understanding his relationship with God and creation. That sin is pride, and the Mariner spends the rest of his life atoning for it through suffering and humility.
  • The Mariner's story is in essence a confession. Ever since killing the albatross, he has been walking around, telling his story to anyone who will listen. This act of confession also serves as a warning to listeners about the dangers of sin, particularly pride. The Mariner wants to atone for his sin by steering others away from it.
  • Nature and religion are closely linked in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." The ancient Mariner learns too late that God loves every creature, big or small. Each one is a living testament to his power and to the beauty of the earth. Killing the albatross is a sin because it destroys part of God's creation.

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Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Although heavily influenced by William Wordsworth and the pantheist tradition, Coleridge diverged from Wordsworth on the source of inspiration for life and poetry: Where Wordsworth believed nature was his source of inspiration, Coleridge believed love was the source of inspiration. Drawing from Christ’s instruction that the greatest commandment is love, Coleridge develops a story that illustrates the importance of love not only for the individual soul but also for the balance and harmony among all living things.

The senseless shooting of the albatross, a bird lured to follow the ship by the men’s initially friendly treatment, serves as the point of illustration for...

(The entire section is 369 words.)