Symbolic significance of the action of The Ancient Mariner.

Symbolic significance of the action of The Ancient Mariner.
Show that The Ancient mariner is not a glittering fairy tale, but an allegory of sin,
punishment, suffering and regeneration.
What moral lesson do you learn from the Ancient Mariner? Would it be right to call it a
criticism of life? Give reasons for your answer.

The Ancient MarinerAnswer: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is not merely a glittering fairy-tale; it has a deeper and graver import. It is rich in symbolism. It is through the use of symbols that a poet conveys universal truths. The Ancient Mariner is, no doubt, a story of the supernatural which we enjoy for its own sake but it is also, “a myth of crime, punishment and redemption. It is by the use of symbolism that an irresponsible fairy-tale is brought closer to life and its fundamental issues.” The poet is thus able to concentrate on issues which really concern him and, despite the poem’s obvious remoteness from life, to convey in a vivid form some fundamental truths.

Like all great art, The Ancient Mariner suggests prospects and possibilities beyond its immediate subject. In the beginning of the poem, there is a deliberate contrast between the Mariner’s tale the wedding festivity. Symbolically the contrast is between the ordinary human world and the invisible world of spirit where a different set of values prevails. The albatross following the ship stands for the power of Nature, coming to the help of the Mariner and his crew. It saves them form snow and fog. The bird seems to suggest some redeeming force in creation IL at guides humanity. The shooting of the Albatross comes quite suddenly and irrationally. It symbolies the sin of ignorance. The act is explicitly called “hellish”. As a result, the ship is becalmed in a tropic sea. Parching heat replaces icy cold. The Mariner gradually discovers from the result of his action that the killing the albatross is violation of a great sanctity.
The Rime of The Ancient Mariner

At the extremity of despairs and therefore, selfless feeling the Mariner suddenly becomes aware of the beauty of the water snakes as he watches their rich colors and fiery tracks. A spring of love gueshes from his heart and he blesses them. Immediately the albatross falls from his neck. The evil spell is broken. Forgiveness of God following and the redemption of his soul takes places.


The immediate result is that a new peace comes into his heart and he is able to sleep again. There is refreshing rain after parching neat. A sense of purity and freedom replaces horror and sin. Energy is at once realized; the wind begins to blow again and the dead men and work The ship begins to move, The regeneration of the Manner has begun, and though he has still a long way to go. his course is now steadily homeward.

At home there is the “hermit of the wood” and the “Kirk” and safety. The sympathy between Nature and the voyage is broken and terrible retribution follows. They are plunged in burning agony. The Knowledge of evil is symbolized by the “slimy things” and “witch’s oils” burning by night.

Then comes the ghost ship with the spectre-woman and her Death-mate wins the Mariner’s soul. The other sailors die, the Manner alone endures, but his life is a life in death, a life with knowledge of death and a fearful agony of soul. He is left alone on a wide sea’ in the utter darkness of night The realm of life-in-Death is terrible; it is the consciousness of being abandoned both by God and Nature, and the utter inability to do anything for one’s own salvation. It is complete paralysis of the will that is symbolized by the motionlessness of the ship; and in that state of fixity the Mariner envies the -moon and stars for their steady progress across the sky.

It is a return to normal life. The woodland hermit stands as a symbol of eternal peace to be obtained through penance and humility. The final lesson is a total acceptance of God and His universe through humility, with equal love for man and beast. Its moral thus links the poem with ordinary human existence and it becomes what Mathew Arnold called a, criticism of life.