Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is wrote in a way that
the reader is expected to temporarily allow him or herself to believe it to be
able to understand it. The poem itself is about a Mariner who is telling his
tale of sin and forgiveness by God to a man referred to as the "Wedding Guest."
The Mariner is supposedly responsible for the death of all of the crew on his
ship because of his killing of a creature which was to bring them the wind that
they needed to put power into the sails of the ship. The whole point of the
poem is to encourage or convince the reader to believe the tale that Coleridge
Coleridge wrote the poem as a means to induce the reader with what he
calls a "willing suspension of disbelief." The poem is written in such a way
that the reader is expected to willingly decide to temporarily believe the
almost unbelievable story. The reason a person is to make sure that he or she
believes it temporarily to be true is because the Mariner in the story is trying
to get the point of forgiveness from God across to the reader and if the reader
chooses not to believe the story behind the poem then they will not understand
the effect of the point of the tale. Coleridge's main point in writing the
story was to get people to understand forgiveness by understanding the poem.
The Mariner in the poem is telling his tale to a "Wedding Guest" who has
no choice but to listen and to believe. The "Wedding Guest" in the poem
represents "everyman" in the sense that "everyone" is to be at the marriage of
the Mariner to life. That is, the reader is to follow, live, and participate
with the idea of the poem.
Coleridge tells of a Mariner on a ship who makes a sin against God and
therefore is cursed. This curse, the killing of an Albatross - one of God's
creatures, costs the entire crew on the ship their lives yet he lives so that he
can realize what he has done and be given a chance to ask forgiveness for his
sin. The deaths occurred when a ship was sited and on it two women like figures
were playing dice and life won the Mariner and death got the crew. Until he
began to pray and ask for forgiveness the crew's souls couldn't enter Heaven but
one he did the curse was broken, his life was saved, and Angels came down from
Heaven and took the crew's souls with them. He had become a saved man.
The whole point of the story becomes clear in the following lines.