The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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.
Christian Allegory Theme Icon

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 of the Albatross, a great sin and crime, can be seen as an allegorical representation of one or more Christian stories. The sin can be a parallel to Adam and Eve’s original sin, where the act of killing the bird instigates a break with nature, bringing the Mariner out of harmony with the natural world and causing punishment akin to the Fall of man. More obvious is the parallel to Judas’ betrayal of Christ, in which the albatross is a symbol for Christ and the Mariner’s sin is a betrayal. This parallel can be drawn with both Judas’ betrayal, and the proverbial sinner’s betrayal in committing any sin. The Judas allegory is strengthened by the fact that the Mariner is then forced to wear the albatross in place of a traditional cross around his neck.

However, the text is not quite so neat as to allow for only a straightforward, Christian allegorical reading. The supernatural elements and the Mariner’s own path through sin and penance break the typical mold of a Christian allegory, and the poem also contains various pagan elements that exist side-by-side with Christian ideas. Ultimately, it might be more fruitful to view the poem not as a Christian allegory, but as encompassing Christian symbols as part of an effort to portray a universal whole that at once includes the truths of Christianity, but is not solely limited to those truths or the particularly Christian way of seeing those truths. Nonetheless, recognizing the way that the poem captures and fuses multiple aspects of Christian symbolism can help as a lens to think about it.

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Christian Allegory ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Christian Allegory appears in each Part of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Christian Allegory Quotes in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Below you will find the important quotes in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner related to the theme of Christian Allegory.
Part I Quotes

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

Related Characters: The Ancient Mariner (speaker), Sailors
Related Symbols: The Albatross
Page Number: 61-70
Explanation and Analysis:
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'God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus! –
Why look'st thou so?'-
With my cross-bow I shot the Albatross.

Related Characters: The Wedding Guest (speaker), The Ancient Mariner
Related Symbols: The Albatross
Page Number: 79-83
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part II Quotes

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

Related Characters: The Ancient Mariner (speaker), Sailors
Related Symbols: The Albatross, Eyes
Page Number: 139-143
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part III Quotes

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could nor laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

Related Characters: The Ancient Mariner (speaker), Sailors, Death, Life-in-Death
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 157-161
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part IV Quotes

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware,

The selfsame moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

Related Characters: The Ancient Mariner (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Albatross, Eyes, The Sun and Moon
Page Number: 282-291
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part VI Quotes

This seraph-band, each waved his hand:
It was a heavenly sight!
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light;

This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
No voice did they impart –
No voice; but oh! the silence sank
Like music on my heart.

Related Symbols: Eyes, The Sun and Moon
Page Number: 492-499
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

It is the Hermit good!
He singeth loud his godly hymns
That he makes in the wood.
He'll shrieve my soul, he'll wash away
The Albatross's blood.

Related Characters: The Ancient Mariner (speaker), Hermit
Related Symbols: The Albatross
Page Number: 508-513
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part VII Quotes

I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech
That moment that his face I see,
I know the man that must hear me:
To him my tale I teach.

Related Characters: The Ancient Mariner (speaker), The Wedding Guest, Hermit
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 586-560
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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.

Related Characters: The Ancient Mariner (speaker), The Wedding Guest
Related Symbols: The Albatross
Page Number: 612-617
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile