The Ancient Mariner - Anti-Hero or Romantic Hero

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University in Sarajevo
Faculty of Philosophy December 15, 2012 Department of English Language Sarajevo English Renaissance Literature

Poetry of English Pre-romanticism:
The Ancient Mariner: Anti-Hero or Romantic Hero

Student: Benjamin Čišić R
CONTENT

1. Introduction…………………………………………………………………..3 1. Foreword………………………………………………………3 2. The Romantic Hero………………………………………………3 3. The Anti-Hero………………………………………………4

2. Anti-Hero or Romantic Hero?………………………………………6 1. The Ancient Mariner as a Romantic Hero……………………....6 2. The Ancient Mariner as an Anti-Hero………………………7

3. Conclusion………………………………………………………………10 4. Works Cited………………………………………………………………11 1. Introduction

1. Foreword

The Ancient Mariner, the central character and main protagonist of one of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's major poems „The Rime of The Ancient Mariner“, presents one of the most striking and mysterious characters of all time. His ill-fated adventure still captures and consumes the minds of readers even nowadays. With its more than powerful and supernatural images, an atmosphere so dark and grotesque, and thrilling dramatic changes of scenes, which resemble those of a modern day action movie, this poem manages to hypnotize and fascinate its readers, just as the Ancient Mariner did with the wedding guests at the beginning of the poem. The story of the poem is rather simple. The Ancient Mariner meets a wedding guest and tells him his somewhat distressing tale full of unexpected turns of events and supernatural phenomena. In the end we find out that the wedding guest was not randomly chosen by the Ancient Mariner, but that it was the agonizing Mariner's curse which urged him to tell this particular wedding guest his story. The character of the Ancient Mariner can be identified with a variety of archetypes: the Wise Man, the Traveler, the Traitor etc. But can he also be identified with the Romantic Hero, or rather with the archetypal Anti-Hero? Well, in order to answer these questions, first of all one needs to define the main characteristics of both these archetypes, and try to fit in the character of the Ancient Mariner.

2. The Romantic Hero

The Romantics emphasized the importance of the individual, the unique, even the eccentric. Consequently they opposed the character typology of neoclassical drama. They preferred boldness, free experimentation over the "rules" of composition. They also promoted the idea of the artist as the "inspired" creator over that of the artist as the "maker" or technical master. The Romantics allied themselves, for the most part, with the very periods of literature that the neoclassicists had dismissed - the Middle Ages and the Baroque. They also embraced the writer whom Voltaire had called a barbarian - Shakespeare. Although interest in religion was prominent during the Romantic period, the Romantics generally rejected absolute systems, whether of philosophy or religion, in favor of the idea that each person (and humankind collectively) must create the system by which to live. [1]

Just as any literary archetype, the Romantic hero possesses his own key characteristics which set him apart from the others.

A typical Romantic Hero rejects established norms and conventions and/or he himself has been rejected by society. He is often the protagonist in the literary work and there is a primary focus on the character's thoughts rather than his actions. [2] The Romantic hero is self-aware, observes his inner thoughts and conscious desires. As a result of self-contemplation, the romantic hero will be able to identify and criticize his own thoughts, actions and behavior. Regret is a common companion which plays a great part in the hero's development throughout the...
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