The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Morals in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Appreciation of Life 12th Grade

Anna Barbauld may have believed that The Rime of the Ancient Mariner had no moral, but Coleridge is correct when he insists that “the poem had too much” (qtd. in Coleridge 6: 272). The moral of his ballad is to appreciate all forms of life. To develop this theme, Coleridge utilizes imagery and symbolism to create an implicit partnership between Life-in-Death and the Moon. The purpose of their partnership is simple; they both serve to punish the Mariner for his crime. In the end, their goal is to teach him a lesson that he will never forget.

To understand how they achieve this goal, one must first examine how the Moon sets up the premise of the theme. When the Moon is first seen, the Albatross is still alive and the Mariner remarks, “Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white / Glimmered the white moon-shine” (77-78). Even with the mist and fog, the imagery here is pleasant. Glimmered has a positive connotation that implies beauty, whereas white is a pure color that often represents innocence. One realizes that in this scene, the Mariner and his crew have the Moon’s blessing because they receive the bird with hospitality. Though it appears the Moon is not concerned either way, it becomes clear that she is when there is a shift...

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