The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

part 3

are the men punished by a lot of spirits or only one. who punishes the,m

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Although later in the poem Coleridge reveals that a specific spirit is responsible for their demise, it seems as though the spiritual world as a whole is punishing the men, using the natural world as its weapon: the wind refuses to blow, the ocean churns with dreadful creatures, and the sun's relentless heat chars the men. 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.