The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

what are the supernatural elements whom the poet has described?

like the dirty sea water

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This literary ballad clearly contains many fantastical elements that are obviously supernatural. Important to note is the way that Coleridge in this poem creates a spirit that embodies Nature itself, called the Polar Spirit, that pursues the ship and rains down suffering and punishment on the vessel because of the thoughtless act of the Mariner in killing the albatross. However, arguably these supernatural elements are used as a way of presenting the torments that guilt can inflict on the human soul and the terrible expiation necessary for those who sin against nature in such a shocking fashion.

Of course, the pain and guilt experienced by the Mariner are a product of the pain and guilt of Coleridge himself, as suffered through his opium addiction, and so we are left to wonder if the fantastical elements that feature so strongly in this poem are dreamt up out of the opium-fevered imagination of its author. Either way, the supernatural elements show the force of The Polar Spirit, representing Nature, and the danger of taking Nature for granted.


Supernatural is often used interchangeably with preternatural or paranormal. It refers to conscious magical, religious or unknown forces that cannot ordinarily be perceived except through their effects. Unlike natural forces, these putative supernatural forces can not be shown to exist by the scientific method. Supernatural claims assert phenomena beyond the realm of current scientific understanding, which are often in direct conflict with current scientific theory.

This essay will discuss the supernatural and uncanny as they have been recurrent themes among the romantic writing. The discussion will start by Hoffman's: "The Sandman". Then it will focus on Coleridge: "The Ancient Mariner" to specify the supernatural and uncanny elements in each of them. After that, there will be a comparison between the two, and how the different genres have a bearing on how the treatment of the topic differs.

In Coleridge's poem "the Rime of the Ancient Mariner" the supernatural is obviously appeared. While the uncanny has appeared in Hoffman's the "Sandman". "Supernatural is an event consider as out of nature, something beyond human realization. Supernatural is Belonging or relating to or being phenomena that cannot be explained by the laws of nature or physics. Whereas Uncanny '' has to do with a sense of strangeness, mystery or eeriness. More particularly it concerns a sense of familiarity which appears at the very heart of the familiar, or else a sense of familiarity which appears at the very heart of the unfamiliar.'' (An Introduction to literature, Criticism and Theory, 1995, p.33').

The "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", discusses a story in how a Ship having passed the Line was driven by storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole ; and how from thence it made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean ; and of the strange things that befell ; and in what manner the Ancient Mariner came back to his own Country. The idea of the supernatural appears clearly in this poem. It examines ideas of crime and punishment. The mariner commits a crime against nature by killing the "Albatross", the bird that causes the wind to blow. This crime brings punishment not only on him but also on his crewmen. The wind stops blowing and a spectral ship appears in the horizon with two supernatural figures onboard to apply the punishment. The mariner becomes alienated from his God and colleagues. The crewmen


The Universty Degree Wordsworth

The supernatural elements actually appear with the albatross, which has arrived in order to help guide the Mariner's ship through a fog bank. When the Ancient Mariner kills the albatross, he has not only violated concepts of gratitude and hospitality, he has, on a whim, killed a living being that has come to same him and his ship. I believe we are meant to see the albatross, in part, in a Christian context--like Christ, who came to earth to save us, the albatross arrives to save the mariners and their ship, and the reward for this generosity is his execution.

Nature itself becomes relentlessly supernatural after the killing of the albatross: the wind stops, temperatures climb, drinking water runs out. These are not merely problems for a ship at sea; they are all life-threatening. The crew, sensing its own complicity in the Mariner's action, decide to hang the albatross around his neck, an allusion to the concept of the Judeo-Christian scapegoat, who wears an amulet representing the sins of the people and is sent into the desert to die for everyone's sins.

As we know, several horrific supernatural elements seal the fate of the ship and crew--slimy snakes from the bottom of the ocean come to the ship; a ghost-ship, with the figures of Death and Death-in-Life, arrives and the entire crew dies (Death) but the Mariner remains alive (Death-in-Life).

The Mariner's salvation comes when he, unconsciously and full of pity, blesses the slimy sea snakes, and the albatross falls from his neck, an indication that Nature and/or God has forgiven his original sin of killing the albatross. His penance, however, is not complete, for he has to keep telling his story, first to the hermit on the pilot boat and then to the Wedding Guest. It's only after the repeated telling of this awful tale that the Ancient Mariner achieves some peace. Unfortunately, the Wedding Guest is negatively affected by the tale, avoids the wedding, and wakes up the next day "a sadder and wiser man."


S .T . Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner