Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Things to Consider:
Elements of the Gothic (see video ):
Atmosphere of mystery and suspense
Religion, esp. Catholic church, as oppressive force
Setting in old/decayed castle
Omens, portents, visions
Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events
High, even overwrought emotion
Metonymy of gloom and horror
Theological Belief Systems
Relationship with Nature
Slave Trade and Abolition Movement
Literary Techniques, including:
Terms to Know/Explain (Parenthetical Citations refer to line #s):
Discussion Questions (Parenthetical Citations refer to line #s):
What characteristics of the Gothic does this poem
exemplify? Provide specific examples from the text.
Why does the Ancient Mariner (AM) stop the Wedding Guest?
Why does the AM shoot the albatross?
Has the bird been a good or a bad omen? Explain.
Why is the albatross compared to "the cross" (141)?
Why can't the AM pray (244-47)?
Why does the AM bless the water creatures "unaware"
(287)? How does doing so help him pray again?
Explain: "He loved the bird that loved the man /
Who shot him with his bow" (404-5).
Explain lines 446-51.
What is the final moral to the poem? (See also footnote
Other Discussion Questions:
Describe the Pantisocracy
Explain the significance of
the annuity granted to Coleridge by the Wedgwoods.
Explain: "[C]ulture, the nation's artistic and
spiritual heritage, represents a force with the power to
combat the fragmentation of a modern, market-driven society
and to restore a common, collective life" (253).
Why is the Bride "Red as a rose" (34)? What literary
technique is being employed here?
What literary technique(s) is (are) being employed in
lines 60-62? Explain.
Why is the crew happy to see the albatross (65-66)?
Why does the sun rise upon the right (83) instead of on
the left as it has before (25)?
Why is the sun "bloody" (112)?
Why do the boards shrink (120)?
What literary technique is being employed in lines
What is a "Night-mare" (193)?
Why are Life and Life-in-Death playing dice?
Why does the AM compare the souls of the crew to his
Why is the AM's brown and skinny hand so fearful to the
Why would "an orphan's curse . . . drag to Hell / A
spirit from on High" (257-58)?
Explain the Gloss to lines 263-66.
Why would the resurrection of the dead bodies be more
troubling than their being inhabited by angelic spirits?
Who is the Polar Spirit? (See also 262)
Explain the relationship between the Moon and the Ocean
How do the images in lines 464-66 compare with those in
Explain: "The silence sank / Like music on my heart"