According to Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, an allegory is described as a fictional literary narrative or artistic expression that conveys a symbolic meaning parallel to but distinct from, and more important than, the literal meaning. This is true in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is an allegory that symbolizes the inherent struggle of humans facing the ideas of sin and redemption. In writing this poem, Coleridge spent four months of sustained writing upon his purpose of supposing that supernatural situations are real. This purpose is seen clearly in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", which demonstrates salvation, and the power of sympathetic imagination. The story of the ancient mariner takes place on a sea voyage around the horn of Africa and through the Pacific Ocean to England, which Coleridge uses to symbolize the pass into the spirit world of guilt, retribution, and rebirth.
In discussing the symbolism of guilt in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", it is important to understand that in the eyes of the Romantics God was one with Nature. Because of this belief a sin against Nature was seen as a sin against God. In line 82 of the poem, the Mariner simply says, "I shot the Albatross." In saying this, the reader often questions why the bird was shot. There is no explanation. The Albatross was shot without reason or motive very much like the sin of humans. Here the poem begins to take on its allegorical purpose in which the Albatross symbolizes not only sin, but possibly Jesus as well. In Christianity, Jesus died upon the cross for the sins of humanity. He was punished in order for ...
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...ort the reader into a spiritual journey of guilt, retribution, and rebirth as a symbol of the journey of Christianity. Expressing the inherent struggles of humanity for sin and redemption, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" allows the reader to suppose that supernatural situations are real. Coleridge uses supernatural events to bring to live the ideas he expresses in his work. "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" clearly demonstrates the ideals of Christianity as salvation and the power of sympathetic imagination.
"Allegory," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000. Microsoft Corporation 1997-2000. .
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." The Norton Anthology: English Literature. 7th ed. 2 vol. Ed. M. H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. 422-38.
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