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How does Coleridge tell the story in part 1 of Rime of the Ancient Mariner?

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How does Coleridge tell the story in part 1? Úna Richards 04/04/2013 As part 1 is the first of all parts in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, we are introduced to the characters in the poem and Coleridge establishes the setting of the poem. ‘It is an ancient Mariner…he stoppeth one of three.’ The impersonal pronoun of ‘it’ suggests that this Mariner may not be human, however there is a change in pronoun with ‘he’, implying a liminal state of the Mariner; he is somewhere in between being supernatural and mortality, reinforced by the word, ‘ancient’. Coleridge’s use of archaic language is used to take the reader back in time to a bygone era, as well as acting as an indicator of setting. The Wedding Guest describes the Mariner in an other-worldly way, having a ‘long grey beard and glittering eye’; both the beard and the singular glittering eye possess connotations of wizardry and reinforce the idea that the Mariner may be a supernatural being. Coleridge creates a number of contrasts between the 1st and 2nd stanzas. The 2nd stanza is used to represent a ‘normal’ world, a world that the Mariner can never be a part of. In the stanza, ‘the Bridegroom’s doors are opened wide’, the word, ‘wide’, is juxtaposed by the Mariner’s unnatural obstruction to the Guest in the previous stanza, as well as to the potential story of the wedding. ...read more.


Coleridge also personifies the sun, perhaps to foreshadow the immense power of the sun that appears later on in the Mariner?s story. The consistent movement of the personified sun helps to indicate the passing of time within the story being told by the Mariner. The 8th, 9th and 10th stanzas act as a narrative break to the Mariner?s story, reminding the reader that a story within a story is being told. The story is interrupted by ?the Wedding-Guest here beat[ing] his breast?; the animalistic imagery reflects the Guest?s primitive instincts to flee the Mariner?s grip, as well as his general frustration. This action from the Guest is in response to ?the loud bassoon,? creating a contrast between the mystical elements of the Mariner and the celebratory and festive event that the Guest is trying to be a part of. We see what the Guest is missing out on, ?the bride?red as a rose is she?, although this simile is seemingly conventional, with closer inspection we are able to see that the bride is fully red, not just her lips, reflecting her full vibrancy, contrasted with the Mariner?s ?skinny hand?. The wedding almost acts as a narrative backdrop; it demonstrates the joyous occasion that both the Guest and the Mariner are not a part of and serves to spotlight the tragic story that?s being told by the Mariner. ...read more.


He emerges as a good omen from the ?fog?, the fog having connotations of mystery and darkness, symbolising a newfound sense of hope, as the bird is like a gift sent from God. The religious lexical fields, ?God?s name?, ?hail?, ?Christian soul?, reflect the Mariner?s gratitude towards God who he believes is responsible for the Albatross? appearance. The internal rhyme, ?cross? and ?Albatross?, conveys the uplifted mood of the Mariner now that the Albatross has apparently rescued their ship, ?the ice did split? and ?a good south wind sprung up behind?. Further internal rhyme reinforces the upbeat mood of the Mariner, ?the Albatross did follow, and every day, for food or play?, he is presented as almost anthropomorphic; he?s like an angel. The semantic fields about goodness and religion suggest that Coleridge?s poem is coming to an end, or at least leading in a different direction. Indeed, the story is quite upbeat until the mention of ?moon-shine?, as moon often signifies near or distant change, a sense of foreboding is created. Perhaps the Guest realises this too, as the hyphen may represent another attempt to get away from the Mariner, or the Guest?s realisation that the Mariner is disturbed, ?Why look?st thou so????With my cross-bow I shot the Albatross?. The enjambment in the line helps to emphasise both the reader and the Guest?s honest reaction of shock. Coleridge ends part 1 with a cliff-hanger in order to create suspense in the poem, as well as a sense of mystery. ...read more.

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