The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Explain the relationship between the two narratives in the poem. Why is it important for the Mariner to tell his story? Who or what forces him to do so?

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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This frame story is one in which the outside story is the story of the Mariner accosting the Wedding Guest who is then forced to listen to the tale of the Mariner's time at sea when he killed the albatross and is then punished for that killing. The Mariner must tell the story to someone who appears to need the lesson, so it is, in a sense, fated that he must tell the story over and over again as an unending penance.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is narrated as a frame tale. The narrator begins by telling the reader about an ancient mariner who stops a man on the street to recite a story. Once he gets the man’s attention, the mariner then tells his tale. Thus, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is similar to a framed painting. The frame represents the first narrator who tells about the mariner; the painting itself, represents the mariner who narrates his own story. The mariner occasionally quotes other people, like the Pilot. But the Pilot is not a narrator.

The Ancient Mariner tells the Wedding Guest that he wanders from country to country, and has a special instinct that tells him to whom he must tell his story. After he tells it, he is temporarily relieved of his agony.