“Mariner’s Sin, punishment, redemption and his penance” “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us. But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us. ” This is one of the famous quotes by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). In his one of the magnificent work, “The Rime of the ancient Mariner”, Coleridge has been able to prove his quote mentioned above. The decision made by the young and excited Mariner to kill the albatross helping them and the consequences which was faced by the entire sailing crew.
Mariner, the main character not only was sorry for what he did, he also went through a series of transformation making him understand his sin. He then suffered all his life searching for redemption. Mariner was all around the places to redeem his sin. Not only he suffered attacks from his haunted past, he had to let everyone know about his deed just to feel relaxed. Mariner killed someone who helped the entire crew survive the icebergs they were in after the storm stroked them. The albatross who flew with the boat, was decided to be a help from the god himself, resulting in all the sailors trying to pet the bird.
As all the crew possessed positive aura when the iceberg cracked and they again were in the open sea covered with fog. Something evil consumed mariner heart and he killed the bird with his crossbow. The entire member was cursing him for his deed at first, but when the fog started clearing out everybody was praising the Mariner. Entire crew who was turning away from Mariner for what he did was now agreeing on the sin committed. This now makes all the crew full of sin, which was not be in their favor. Soon their situation turned worse, the breeze stopped, and they were in the middle of the ocean without any movement.
Without any water, “Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. ” suddenly entire crew was begging for water. It’s a human nature to be happy and sad depending on the situation he puts himself in. When there are good things happening then they all forget about the harm it can cause. Coleridge proved the human nature on this poem. When the sin was committed, one tends to agree with it, until it has any negative effect. When god started wrath upon them, entire crew turned to Mariner to curse him again for what he did.
In ones normal life, one always tries their best to blame someone for the sin they have helped in. God will always punish the one who have committed sin as like in the poem. As the entire crew was involved in the crime, soon they start to get punished. They start to see the wrath from the god in form of different unnatural ways in the grip of nature. The sun was getting really hot. “Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down… ” “All in a hot and copper sky, The bloody sun at noon. ” Hot and dry, and without water the sailors were in dire need of help.
Even putting the albatross’s cross around the mariner did not help anything. They could see the slimy and gross creature with legs making entire crew suspicious about their future. After the passing of the mysterious ghost ship, all the members start dying one by one. As if the sin committed by the mariner, was all the reason for the death. The Ancient Mariner is punished mentally by the spiritual world. The Mariner feels responsible for his crews suffering (along with the Mariners own suffering) as the penalty for killing the albatross.
The Mariner is punished by being forced to watch his crew be released and knowing he must suffer further (he must suffer alone): “The souls did from their bodies fly, They fled to bliss or woe! And every soul, it passed me by, Like the whizz of my cross-bow. ” The Ancient Mariners physical and mental punishment continues and he becomes the living dead. The Mariner is forced to feel constant pain and has the constant urge to tell others (who he knows must hear his story) his story in order to momentarily relieve his pain: “That agony returns: And till my ghastly tale is told, this hurt within me burns. God plays in mysterious ways. Although Mariner is getting punished as his colleagues are dying one by one and all he can do is just look at them cursing him. To make mariner responsible for their misfortune they hung an albatross cross around the neck so that the mariner will see that every time and feel the pain and agony felt by the entire crew before dying. Mariner was getting punished also he possessed the guilt, but still god was testing him. Even in the worst situation ever faced by the mariner, god had a plan from which he could escape his guilt.
The mariner’s own sense of guilt is enhanced through the consequences he faces in the physical world, as a result of the powers of the metaphysical world. That is the powers of the spirits in the poem, allow for severe contrasts in the physical world, which in relation to the mariner’s sense of guilt, are reflective of his own unsettled mind. “.. More horrible than that… I saw that curse, and yet I could not die. ”He was in great pain. Soon the mariner was in a condition of a living dead person. He was alive, but for no good.
Soon he realizes he needs help from the god, but the presence of the negative aura makes that impossible. “I looked to heaven, and tried to pray; But or ever a prayer had gusht, A wicked whisper came, and made my heart as dry as dust” Soon that night when he again sees the slimy creatures, he finds those creatures to be really wonderful and a part of god’s creation. He then understands every creature in this world is equally loved by their creature i. e. god. After realizing that his necklace of albatross fell and he was able to pray to god. The selfsame moment I could pray; And from my neck so free The Albatross fell off, and sank Like lead into the sea. ” With the help from god, he could hear the curious and knowledgeable voice; he has to do a lot of penance in the future. Waking up after he fainted, he found it was raining; slowly he regained consciousness, and finds that his curse has been lifted, his entire crew members were alive filled with good souls and it was making the boat to move. “Then like a pawing horse let go, she made a sudden bound; It flung the blood into my head, and I fell down in a swound. When he reached towards his home, he was approached by the pilot and his young crewmate, also accompanied by the hermit. The hermit might have been sent by the help of god for the information about the penance to be done by the mariner all his life. The boat on which mariner was lying started to get fall in the ocean like the albatross fell when it was shot. Amazingly mariner was still floating on the ocean. When they make back to the shore, Mariner immediately starts asing for redemption.
As the mariner closely associates the hermit with religion, to act like a priest, upon seeing the man, the mariner believes it is he who will free him from sin. “It is the hermit good! / He singeth loud his godly hymns that he makes in the wood . He’ll shrieve my soul he’ll wash away the Albatross’ blood”. The mariner intends for the hermit to wash away the albatross’ blood, and thus, his, sins. The hermit does allow this to happen – “Oh shrieve me, shrieve me holy man! The hermit crossed his brow. ‘Say quick’, quoth he, ‘I bid thee say — what manner of man art thou? The mariner is gripped with a compulsion to tell his story to the hermit. This is how the hermit offers the mariner redemption. As soon as he tells the story to hermit he feels really good. He is then told to tell his story to people who need to hear his tale to get off the pain that persists until he tell the story. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” teach us to love all the creation of the god. Submission to god is the only option for all people to enjoy their life. It is really foolish to take an instant decision and face the consequences for ever.
Only people, who love God’s creation i. e. men, birds, and animal and everything created by god, can pray well and gain a place in heaven. The poem also encourages people to be faithful to god. Redemption and somewhat penance may be the only way for anyone to get rid of his sins. It is up to us to decide what action are sins and what are not. There will be objects and situation which will make it harder for one to decide, but correctly analyzing and choosing ones action is the only way not to do any sin, which is far better than to penance all over one’s life like the mariner in the poem.
Citation: -Stillinger/Lynch. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. ” The Norton anthology of English Literature. New York. 2006. Print -“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. Wikipedia. Ed. Web -Shmoop Editorial Team. “The Rime of Ancient Mariner”. Shmoop. com Shmoop University, Inc. , 11/4/2012. http://www. shmoop. com/rime-of-ancient-mariner/summary. html. – SparkNotes Editors. “The rime of the Ancient Mariner. ” SparkNotes. com. SparkNotes LLC. 2006. http://www. sparknotes. com/poetry/coleridge/section1. rhtml