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How does Coleridge open his story in Part I of The Ancient Mariner?

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Introduction

How does Coleridge open his story in Part I of 'The Ancient Mariner'? (Comment on language, form and structure). If 'The Ancient Mariner' is indeed an allegory - that is, the representation of abstract principles by characters or figures - it would have to incorporate this concept into the introduction, which it does. The piece is written irregularly and in a ballad form, with some stanzas containing rhyming couple, inline rhymes and, oddly, some stanzas are longer than each other. Three young men who are arriving in the area to attend to a wedding are mentioned immediately; could these characters be representative of the three wise men from early Biblical teachings? It could be held that they compose the forum for which the Ancient Mariner can release the guilt of his impending, ominous telling, and are thus the integral part for which the poem can be understood. The work as a whole seems to have religious connotations and it is not too far-fetched to suggest that Coleridge had that in mind when writing; given the context of the era the piece was composed in. ...read more.

Middle

This stanza also contains Coleridge's first notable use of personification, giving the sun male characteristics - this in itself distinguishes the work as something pertaining to the romantic genre. Within the same quatrain, it can also be understood as to which direction the ship is heading in - helping orientate the reader and bestow them with the knowledge that it is sailing south - "The sun came up upon the left" / "[...] and on the right, Went down into the sea". Given that nothing particularly exciting has occurred hitherto, it is understandable that the young man sat on the stone soon becomes tired and longs to be released back on his way to the wedding - "The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast" - nevertheless, the Mariner "continueth his tale". The inclusion of the line ("Yet he cannot choose but hear") appearing to suggest that the central role of this poem is the tale itself, which needs to be both told and heard. ...read more.

Conclusion

It was hailed "in God's name" (with this referring back to the religious undertones mentioned before which are carefully laid throughout the text) as if by some miracle the environment in which they found themselves in miraculously disappeared. Demonstrating gratitude for its role in this marvellous wonder, the crew willingly feed the bird ("it ate the food it ne'er had eat"), thanking it for showing them mercy and providing salvation. It is from that viewpoint that Coleridge provides a break from the earlier apprehension created in the poem by showing that all hope should not be lost even in the most difficult of circumstances and that rescue is never too far away. Unthinkably, the Mariner spontaneously decides to shoot the bird (Is he ungrateful for the support it has provided? Does he wish an ill-fate upon his fellow sailors?) After the albatross is killed, the changes in the fortunes of the sailors, for better or worse, are laid at the feet of the Ancient Mariner, culminating in the act of replacing a religious icon, the cross, with the body of the bird. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

*** 3 STARS

Some good use of PEA and well selected quotes are embedded. Accurate use of terminology. Closer language analysis needed in places. Shows understanding and knowledge of the poem and its main theme of religion. Summary or conclusion needed in order to fully answer the question.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 05/09/2013

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