The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Questions
1. How do YOU explain the Mariner’s killing of the albatross? I would describe the Mariner’s killing of the albatross as very ungrateful. If the albatross had not come along, the entire crew would have most likely died in the ice field. The Mariner was completely senseless in shooting the albatross; therefore, of course there was going to be very bad consequences. The consequences tend to be even worse than death at some points. The albatross did the Mariner and his crew a favor, by saving their lives, and the Mariner ungratefully shoots and kills his own savior. The lonely sailors treat the albatross like a person, a “Christian soul.” In Christian symbolism, Christ is sometimes metaphorically compared to a bird; hence, the albatross can be a symbol for Christ. Since the Mariner senselessly shot the albatross, he was persecuted, which is why the rest of his trip did not go very well. The poem describes the bird as a holy thing “hailed in God’s name.” The Mariner is like the Christian who commits sins, causing Christ to die on the cross. It’s God’s rules that Man should respect all of His creations; the albatross is part of God’s creations. In respecting the albatross, the Mariner would be respecting God himself. Furthermore, if the Mariner decided to respect God, and his creations, he may have had a better remainder of a trip.

2. One literary critic has said that the poem begins in despair and ends in hope. Telling the tale leaves the Mariner “free” for a time. Another critic has called the Mariner “the voice of experience that transcends what man can learn in space and time.” Discuss the validity of these ideas in relation to the poem as you understand it. Lastly, connect the theme of redemption to another literary work we have studied.

2. The idea of one’s life beginning in despair and ending in hope reflects the idea of redemption. The mariner begins the poem in despair and guilt after he...
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