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Coleridge's poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is written about a Mariner telling his tale of sin and forgiveness to a small group of young men on their way to attend a wedding. The Mariner claims to be responsible for the deaths of everyone on board of a ship he once sailed because he killed a creature that was supposed to bring them the wind they needed to resume sailing after hitting a plateau in the ship’s movement.
Through the writing style in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Coleridge tries to convince the reader that the events told in the poem could possibly have been real, thus leaving the reader to partially believe the strange story and Coleridge is right to do so. The theme of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is God’s forgiveness. The Mariner believes that God has forgiven him for his sins and is telling his tale to the young men on their way to a wedding. The Mariner explains that he killed an albatross, and the entire crew dies because of it. The Mariner, however, survives and asks God’s to forgive him for his sins. When the Mariner prays for forgiveness, the curse preventing the souls of the crew from entering Heaven is broken, the Mariner’s life is spared and Angels from Heaven escort the souls of the dead crewman to the afterlife.
In closing, the whole point of the story becomes clear in the following lines.
"Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
"He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."
The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
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Is gone: and now the Wedding Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.
He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn. (610-625)
It is in these lines that Coleridge sums up the poem. The Mariner is explaining to the “Wedding Guests” how to live a good life that is pleasing to God and to respect all of God’s creation.