The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

What sort of statement does the poem make about humankind’s place in the natural world?

In the poem, the Mariner faces various “punishments” for his transgression against the albatross and, by extension, the natural world. In your opinion on whether these punishments are just or unjust, make an argument for what you think the poem’s treatment of the Mariner reveals about the Romanticist era in which Coleridge lived.

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The natural world and our place in it lies heavy as a theme within Coleridge's Masterpiece. Natures power in all its beautiful fury is unleashed on the Mariner for his callous deed. The Romantics often asserted nature's awesome power over feeble man. Especially in the 1817 text, in which Coleridge includes marginal glosses, it is clear that the spiritual world controls and utilizes the natural world. At times the natural world seems to be a character itself, based on the way it interacts with the Ancient Mariner. From the moment the Ancient Mariner offends the spirit of the "rime," retribution comes in the form of natural phenomena. The wind dies, the sun intensifies, and it will not rain. The ocean becomes revolting, "rotting" and thrashing with "slimy" creatures and sizzling with strange fires. Only when the Ancient Mariner expresses love for the natural world-the water-snakes-does his punishment abate even slightly. So does the Mariner deserve his fate? Within the context of the poem Coleridge certainly felt so. But in his punishment, there was salvation. So yes, the poem does work and the Mariner was better for it. For us, the context is different, the magic of the romantics do not surround us. Still, as man wreaks havoc over the planet and its animals, I wonder if we shall serve a horrible fate like the mariner. Unfortunately, unlike the Mariner, I don't think there will be such salvation for us.