What does it mean to be wise? Webster's Dictionary defines the word "wise" as being "marked by deep understanding, keen discerment". Through the telling of the ancient Mariner's tale, the Wedding-Guest became sadder and wiser. He became sad in that he identified himself with the shallow and self-absorbed mariner. However, the mariner changed his ways. The Wedding-Guest became wise through realizing that he himself needed to alter his ways.
As the ancient Mariner described his adventures at sea to the Wedding-Guest, the Guest became saddened because he identified his own selfish ways with those of the Mariner. The mariner told the Guest that he and his ship-mates were lucky because at the beginning of their voyage they had good weather. The mariner only saw what was on the surface -- he did not see the good weather as evidence that Someone was guiding them. Also, when he shot the Albatross, the Mariner did not have any reason for doing so. The Albatross did nothing wrong, yet the Mariner thought nothing of it and without thinking of the significance of the act, he killed the bird. At this, the Guest was reminded of how self-absorbed he, too, was, and the sinful nature of man. At the beginning of the poem he was very much intent on arriving at the wedding on time. He did not care at all about what it was that the Mariner had to tell him; he did not want to be detained even if the Mariner was in trouble. Instead, he spoke rudely to the mariner, calling him a "gray-beard loon", and tried to go on his own way.
The Mariner began to see his own sinfulness and change his ways. As the Wedding-Guest listened to the story of the Mariner, the Mariner told him of...
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...r his ways. He was wise in that he listened to all that the Mariner told him and discerned what was being said -- that you need to be repentant for sins before a change can take place. If only the Wedding-Guest had learned this lesson a bit sooner, he might have lived his life differently in the past and, perhaps, that is what contributed to saddening him, making him realize that he could have done much more significant things for God. Nevertheless, he will heed the teaching of the Mariner and there is hope that he will do great things in the future.
We all sometimes get caught up in the things of this world and become absorbed in our own selves, and it is in these times that we, like the Wedding-Guest, need to hear the Rime of the Ancient Mariner to remind us of our sinful ways so that we can change and focus on the significant things that we can do for God.
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