The Bright Side of Sin in Samuel Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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Ethan Frank
English 3H-Hamiling

The Bright Side of Sin in Samuel Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American to win the heavyweight boxing championship. Winning the title would be the worst thing to ever happen to the man with the golden smile because he lived in Jim Crow America. White society detested his success as well as his relations with white women; therefore, congress passed the Mann Act in order to convict Johnson of the illegal transportation of women. Jackson, however, did not let any oppression, rejection or slander from whites phase him. Johnson actually fled America as a fugitive to avoid succumbing to the law. After a couple years, Johnson finally realized that he needed to go home and turn himself in, so that he could enjoy the rest of his life. Johnson turned himself in on July 20, 1920. In Samuel Coleridge’s romantic work of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the mariner displays the same rebellious and ignorant attitude that leads to both his failure and merit. An ignorant man sailing the seas, he rejects nature’s power in the world and commits an unconscious crime by killing an albatross. The malfeasance that the rebellious mariner commits against nature will first cause him great suffering, but it will ultimately come to teach him how he can reach salvation by connecting with nature and purging his guilt. Before one can go through life searching for salvation and teaching lessons, he must first sin.  When the Mariner “kill[s] the bird / That made the breeze to blow,” he negligently commits a sin against nature (Coleridge 93-94). The albatross had served as a significant omen for the sailors because it made the rime on the boat crack, in addition to bringing wind that carried the ship. The reason that the Mariner kills the bird never becomes evident; however, when “down dropt the breeze…[and the] bloody Sun…[appears] day after day,” it is...
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