It has been suggested that “The Rime…” may be read as a religious text, presenting nothing less than the “fall of man”. Beginning with a consideration of the passage below, explain your response.
There have been many interpretations of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, such as the belief that inspiration for the poem was based on Coleridge’s belief that God is present everywhere in nature.
Coleridge supports the idea of a religious text; “And I had done a hellish thing” as he describes the Mariner’s sinful act of killing the albatross and removing the good omen from the sailors, condemning them to “the silence of the sea.” “I had kill’d the bird” could be seen as the Mariner betraying Christianity and God by killing part of nature as God created the natural world and is repeated to emphasize the sin and importance of the Mariner destroying the omen. Later in the poem, the dead albatross replaces a cross around the Mariner’s neck to remind him of his sin; “ Instead of the cross, the Albatross, about my neck was hung” symbolising the absence of his faith in God whilst it is replaced by the sin of killing God’s creature and as the Albatross fell and “sank like lead into the sea”, Coleridge could be seen to be referring to the fall of man, quickly falling from guilt into unhappiness; similar to the Mariner being cursed with eternally telling his tale.
As well as biblical references to the cross, Coleridge uses a continuous theme of water to represent God and Christianity. “A spring of love gush’d from my heart” which may represent the blessing that water signifies during a baptism as the Mariner’s guilt is lifted and he is forgiven as his life is restored. However, the water may also be used as a way of tormenting the Mariner for his lack of faith and his killing of God’s creation, as the water that signifies life and purity, provides the crew with no replenishment and draws them to their death; “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” Coleridge may...
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