The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

by

Samuel Coleridge

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Themes

Themes and Colors
The Natural and the Spiritual Theme Icon
The Mundane and the Sublime Theme Icon
Sin and Penance Theme Icon
Storytelling and Interpretation Theme Icon
Christian Allegory Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Natural and the Spiritual

Coleridge was one of the founders of the Romantic movement, a literary movement that developed in the early 19th century in response to the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment philosophy esteemed reason above all else, and flourished in the 18th century, as well as contributed to the budding Industrial Revolution and the ways that growing industry and technology seemed to shift the balance in man’s relationship with nature. Romantics valued emotion over reason, and they glorified…

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The Mundane and the Sublime

The idea of the sublime is an important Romantic idea. In modern times, the word “sublime” usually refers to something especially breathtaking or beautiful. But as demonstrated by the strange beauty – both terrible and wonderful – that Coleridge presents in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the Romantic idea of the sublime isn’t confined to just beauty, but rather suggests an overwhelming awe, and is often connected to nature. In the poem, for instance…

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Sin and Penance

In the context of the spirituality that pervades the poem, the Mariner’s story can be seen as one of Sin and Penance. In shooting the innocent albatross he commits a sin (against both nature and God, since one is the expression of the other). The Mariner is then punished: he suffers deprivations and horrors until he learns to appreciate and love the natural and supernatural world that the albatross symbolized, and then he is…

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Storytelling and Interpretation

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is very focused on storytelling. The Mariner stops one of every three people he sees, since he knows that certain people need to hear his story, and he simply begins telling his tale. And the tale itself is so compelling that his listeners can do nothing but listen. Further, the Mariner can also be read as a kind of stand-in for a writer. The Mariner, after his experiences, is…

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Christian Allegory

Many read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as containing explicit Christian allegory. Despite the fact that Coleridge himself said that the poem had no explicit moral, such a reading is difficult to ignore given the overt Christian lesson that the Mariner teaches at the end of the poem. He says that he takes immense joy in prayer, and instructs an appreciation and respect for God, God’s creatures, and all of nature. Further, his killing…

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