Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," written in 1797, has been widely discussed throughout literary history. Although critics have come up with many different interpretations of this poem, one idea that has remained prevalent throughout these discussions is the apparent religious symbolism present throughout this poem. "The Ancient Mariner" contains natural, gothic, and biblical symbolism; however, the religious and natural symbolism, which coincide with one another, play the most important roles in this poem (Piper 43). It is apocalyptic and natural symbolism that dominates the core of this poem (43).
The biblical symbolism found in this poem mainly reflects the apocalypse, as it deals with the Mariner's revelation that good will triumph over evil, and
his acceptance of all nature as God's creation. It is impossible to believe that Coleridge was not thinking of the mysterious wind that blows on the Mariner, without any awareness of the wind as a Biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit. Coleridge could also not associate the murder of the albatross with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The reader is told that the Polar Spirit "loved the bird that loved the man who shot him with his bow." It is doubtful that someone with Coleridge's Christian background and faith could fail to see here an analogy with God who loved his son who loved the men that killed him.
Another example of symbolism is the fact that the albatross is hung around the Mariner's neck like a crucifix. Event the "cross" in "cross-bow" hints at the murder of Jesus, which logically paces the albatross as a symbol for Christ. It is thought that Coleridge deliberately created these symbols and images with Christian meaning in mind. The apocalypse is heavily reflected upon throughout this poem as Coleridge combined the vivid colors, the ocean, and the death fires of "The Ancient Mariner" with the terror and desolation of the days of wrath in the apocalypse. The section...
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