British literature question
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The ship came near enough for the Ancient Mariner to see who manned it: Death, embodied in a naked man, and The Night-mare Life-in-Death, embodied in a naked woman. The latter was eerily beautiful, with red lips, golden hair, and skin "as white as leprosy." Death and Life-in-Death were gambling with dice for the Ancient Mariner's soul, and Life-in-Death won. The ghost ship, however, is separate from the natural world - it sails without wind, and its inhabitants are spirits. Death and Life-in-Death are allegorical figures who become frighteningly real for the sailors, especially the Ancient Mariner, whose soul Life-in-Death "wins", thereby dooming him to a fate worse than death. Even those sailors whose souls go to hell seem freer than the Ancient Mariner; while their souls fly unencumbered out of their bodies, he is destined to be trapped in his indefinitely - a living hell.