Theme Of Christianity In "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner"

983 words - 4 pages

A significant theme in Samuel Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," is Christianity, which is portrayed through the Mariner’s epic journey. This text is set between the physical world and the metaphysical (spiritual world), similar to religious teachings found in the Bible. With the use of vivid descriptions and strong language in this ballad, moral lessons appear that connect both man and God in order to discover an innate bond and understanding. Though this tale is overwhelmingly bizarre and dark, the moral lessons taught are in line with central aspects of both the romantic period and the Christian religion. In Coleridge's ballad, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," many Christian ideals are represented throughout the treacherous journey of the Mariner, such as sin, forgiveness, and prayer.
The catalyst for the emergence of Christian symbolism occurs when the mariner commits a sin by murdering one of God’s creatures. By killing the albatross, he inevitably brings about a series of trials amongst himself and those aboard the ship. Though the significance of this sin is first unseen by the mariner, supernatural forces quickly condemn his actions as a severe crime against nature. With no real reason, the mariner kills the albatross and soon realizes the magnitude of his actions. Viewed beyond simply a good luck charm, “At length did cross an Albatross, Through the fog it came; As if it had been a Christian soul, We hailed it in God’s name” (ll. 63-6). The idea of the Albatross representing Jesus Christ is a direct parallel in the Christian religion. The death of the Albatross is reminiscent of the death of Jesus in that both died as a result of another’s sin and betrayal of God’s word. Similar accounts of betrayal are portrayed in biblical text. For example, the death of the Albatross, the original sin of Adam and Eve are each scenario in which respect for God’s rules is absent. In a religious context, the act of sin separates one’s self from god. Similarly, the Mariner’s separation from the metaphysical world provides a conceptual explanation for the trials set before him.
By killing the albatross, the Mariner sets in motion Christianity’s idea that all except Jesus are sinners, but through repentance one can seek forgiveness and ultimately salvation. However, Coleridge poses a dichotomy regarding the transparency of forgiveness in this ballad. After the Mariner blesses the snakes, the reader presumes the curse was lifted and forgiveness was granted. Although the “Albatross fell off, and sank Like lead into the sea” (288-91), the Mariner was compelled to serve a long-term penance of continually repeating his tale, also serving as a constant reminder of his sin. Where as Christianity teaches that by repenting one achieves forgiveness, Coleridge enacts the idea of retribution in order for the Mariner to ultimately attain God’s forgiveness. For example, one of nature’s punishments taunts the Mariner with extreme thirst, causing him to cry out:...

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