The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Coleridge's Use of the Narrative Method in Part 7 of the Ancient Mariner

Part 7 forms the dramatic climax of the poem in which the Mariner returns to his own “countree”. Coleridge uses the focal character, the eponymous Ancient Mariner, to narrate the aftermath of the journey and his life since and includes dialogue from the pilot, his boy and, most significantly, the Hermit to make clear the moral of the poem. That the Wedding Guest is not given direct speech as the Mariner concludes his tale can also be seen as significant, suggesting to the reader that as he is a “sadder and wiser” man, he cannot find the words to respond to the Mariner’s tale. The omniscient narrator concludes the tale, completing the “frame” of the narrative and perhaps introducing more credibility to the Mariner’s tale: this external voice prevents the reader from dismissing the Mariner’s narrative as the ramblings of a “grey-beard loon”.

Like the rest of the poem, Part 7 draws on elements of the ballad form such as use of the quatrain stanza form, but it is in this concluding section that we see Coleridge stray the furthest from the traditional form, perhaps to emphasise the changes in the Mariner’s life: although the setting has moved from sea to land, the Mariner’s life has been irrevocably changed by his experiences....

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