1. How do you explain the Mariner’s killing of the albatross? I would describe the Mariner’s killing of the albatross as very ungrateful. If the albatross had not come along, the entire crew would have most likely died in the ice field. The Mariner was completely senseless in shooting the albatross; therefore, of course there was going to be very bad consequences. The consequences tend to be even worse than death at some points. The albatross did the Mariner and his crew a favor, by saving their lives, and the Mariner ungratefully shoots and kills his own savior.
The lonely sailors treat the albatross like a person, a “Christian soul.”
In Christian symbolism, Christ is sometimes metaphorically compared to a bird; hence, the albatross can be a symbol for Christ. Since the Mariner senselessly shot the albatross, he was persecuted, which is why the rest of his trip did not go very well. The poem describes the bird as a holy thing “hailed in God’s name.
” The Mariner is like the Christian who commits sins, causing Christ to die on the cross. It’s God’s rules that Man should respect all of His creations; the albatross is part of God’s creations. In respecting the albatross, the Mariner would be respecting God himself. Furthermore, if the Mariner decided to respect God, and his creations, he may have had a better remainder of a trip.
2. One literary critic has said that the poem begins in despair and ends in hope. Telling the tale leaves the Mariner “free” for a time. Another critic has called the Mariner “the voice of experience that transcends what man can learn in space and time.” Discuss the validity of these ideas in relation to the poem as you understand it. Lastly, connect the theme of redemption to another literary work we have studied.
3. The idea of one’s life beginning in despair and ending in hope reflects the idea of redemption. The mariner begins the poem in despair and guilt after he has killed the sacred albatross. The guilt is present in both the natural and the super natural world and is clearly depicted in the albatross that hung around his neck. It is not until the mariner appreciates both nature and prayer that he has found the road to redemption. The mariner is condemned to a life in death situation placing him in a different world than everyone else. He teaches us through space and time in his new form of living. He learns from his sins and searches for the path of redemption.
The Christian allegory shows the bridge between the idea of fate being chosen for you and the ability to redirect fate. Like in The Scarlett Letter, Hester Prynn was searching for redemption from the sin she committed. She was forced into another world in which no one could quite understand. She had to overcome the judgments of another society and achieve her redemption in which she found in the natural world, her house in the woods, and the supernatural world, he redemption with God.
4. One scholar believes the Wedding Guest is chosen because he represents “unsophisticated innocence preoccupied with pleasures of the moment in a universe of whose full dimensions and population he is quite ignorant.” As a result of hearing the Mariner’s tale, the Wedding Guest changes, becoming “a sadder and wiser man.” Of what has he been forlorn (deprived)? Address this criticism in light of your understanding of Coleridge’s narrative.
I believe that the Wedding Guest becomes, in a sense, under the possession of the Mariner. “The wedding-guest sat on a stone,/He cannot choose but hear;/And thus spake on that ancient man,/The bright-eyed mariner” (Rime 1.17-20). The Mariner even refers to the guest as immature when he says that he “listens like a three years’ child.” After the Mariner’s story comes to an end, it is affirmed that the Wedding Guest has taken in knowledge that dramatically changes him as a human.
“He went like one that hath been stunned/And is of sense forlorn:/A sadder and a wiser man,/He rose the morrow morn” (Rime 7.622-625). I believe that the Wedding Guest is the type of person who tends to take everything in his life for granted; hence, he wanted a change in his routine life. This story was one of the many instances that changed a person. I definitely see this as a point of reflection in his life, of what his life used to be. It can also be seen as a prevention to change his way of thinking before it becomes much too late.