The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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It has been suggested that The Rime of the Ancient Mariner may be read as a religious text, presenting ‘nothing less than the fall of man’.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner has been interpreted in a variety of ways since it’s creation in 1797. Some, such as Gavin McGann, argue that ballad is a story of our salvation of Christ, whereas others dispute this, believing it to be a metaphor for Original Sin in the Garden of Eden. Whilst these interpretations may differ, the view that The Rime may be read as a religious text does not. Religion lies at the heart of the poem, focusing on the trials and tribulations of man, depicting a moving spiritual journey of sin, punishment, repentance and eventual redemption.

In murdering the albatross the Mariner commits a terrible sin. The bird brought with it Southerly winds to lead the straying ship out of the Antarctic, after it had been driven off course by a storm. Flying alongside the ship, the albatross held only the good intention of helping the ship finds its way back on track. The mariner’s sin is fundamentally unpremeditated and unfounded, and in committing a crime against nature, he is essentially committing a crime against God, the creator of all nature and life. The punishment which the Mariner must face following the motiveless shooting of the albatross is not unjustified.

The crime arouses the wrath of supernatural spirits who then pursue the ship “from the land of mist and snow”; the Southerly wind which had initially led them from the land ...

... middle of paper ... is no doubt that it does present, through allegory, the spiritual regeneration of man. However, to approach the poem with purely a Christian interpretation in mind would be foolish as there a many respectable alternative interpretations, including Freudian and Jungian, which, although dissecting the poem in different ways, each have their own strengths. So, it is fair to say that the suggestion that The Rime of the Ancient Mariner may be interpreted as a “religious text” is true as a text can be interpreted in whatever way a reader wishes to view it. However to limit and confine the poem to this would be unfair, as a text can always be interpreted from many angles, and it would be highly critical towards Coleridge to conclude that, when he sat down to write the Ancient Mariner, he did so with the aim of creating simply a religious tale.

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