Essay on The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

Essay on The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

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In his epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge critiques the Gothic convention of the explained supernatural (in particular explanation in the form of divine intervention) through his portrayal of the tension between Christian themes and the sublimity of the archaic both within the poem itself as well as in the external preface and marginal glosses accompanying the poem. I intend to argue that despite the seemingly inherent Christian morality present on the surface of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Coleridge subtly draws attention to a pre-Christian subtext, which holds the insignificance of humanity and the unknowability of the universe in high regard. Through his characterization of the Ancient Mariner and his addition of the preface and marginal glosses, Coleridge suggests that the desire for rationality and explicability present in Christianity is an opposing and detrimental force to the seemingly necessary human experience of being awestruck by the vast and unknown.
Coleridge begins The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, an unusual poem, in a befittingly unusual way by quoting an excerpt from Archaeologiae philosophicae, a 1692 text authored by theologian and natural philosopher Thomas Burnet which was the subject of much dispute and criticism during its initial publication, primarily for its suggestion of an allegorical rather than a literal interpretation of the events of the Book of Genesis. The passage, which is included in its original Latin along with an English translation, suggests that while it is a fact acknowledged by the author (Burnet) that the universe it made up of more things invisible to the human eye than are visible, human knowledge has never extended far enough to actually under...


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...linquishment of the desire to dominate nature and recognition of insignificance in the face of nature, as it is a holy revelation. In doing this, Coleridge uses the supernatural and the feared as allegorical representations of tension between rationality and marvel inherent in his own era, suggesting that perhaps the desire to understand all aspects of the human experience should not supersede humankind’s ability to be awestruck by its insignificance in relationship to all that is grand and far more dominant in the world.
Finally, Coleridge puts his addition of the marginal glosses outlining the events of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to use in his pursuit by using them both highlight the poem’s continuous theme of the understood surface versus the unseen subtext, as well as to imbue the text with the sense of the equally Gothic tension of past versus present,

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