How does Coleridge tell the story in part 4 of Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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How does Coleridge tell the story in part 4?               Úna Richards 26/03/2013

Part 4 begins with another attempt from the Wedding Guest to get away, shown through the direct speech of the Wedding Guest, ‘I FEAR thee, ancient Mariner!’ The direct speech is also used to remind us that the Mariner is telling a story within the poem. The capitalisation of the word, ‘fear’, is used to echo the honest and fearful reaction of both the Wedding Guest and the reader, following the tragic event that has occurred in the previous part. The first stanza is used to re-acquaint us with the characters in Coleridge’s poem and we are reminded that the Mariner appears to possess all of the features of a dead person, ‘long, and lank, and brown’, but is still alive, reaffirming his liminal state; he is somewhere inbetween life and death. In stanza 2, the ‘glittering eye’ motif is echoed, reminding us of the Mariner’s appearance, the singular eye implies that he not fully there, whilst ‘glittering’ possesses connotations of witchery, furthering the idea that the Mariner is a supernatural creature.

In stanzas 3 and 4, Coleridge largely focuses on the isolation of the Mariner. In the 3rd stanza, we see the poet use a lot of repetition in order to communicate the true extent of isolation and his misery, ‘Alone, alone, all all alone, Alone on a wide, wide sea!’ The anaphora emphasises his feelings of loneliness, whilst the assonance slows down the rate in which the poem read, allowing a lot of focus on his seclusion. In the 4th stanza, the Mariner equates death with beauty because his loneliness gets to such an unbearable degree that he is resentful of the dead mariners; they are free of the torture that the Mariner continues to endure alone, he sees the ‘many men [as] so beautiful!’ The intensifier in the quote, ‘so’, demonstrates the mariner’s newfound love for humanity, as he misses their company, it also acts as an indication for his remorse, whilst the exclamation mark simply serves to emphasise the statement. He bitterly acknowledges that ‘a thousand thousand slimy things live on; and so did [he].’ Coleridge utilizes structure in this particular quote; the enjambment in the line helps to highlight that the horrors continue to live on; then with the use of the semi colon, the Mariner is able to liken himself to these unnatural and horrible creatures, highlighting the guilt that he continues to feel.

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By the 6th stanza, the guilt felt by the Mariner is so overwhelming that he is unable to pray, ‘I looked to Heaven, and tried to pray’. The constant semantic fields relating to religion in this stanza, ‘prayer’, ‘saint’, suggest to the reader that the Mariner is trying to bring himself closer to God; it also indicates that the Mariner has begun his attempt at redemption, as at this point, it’s so hard for him to ignore his own guilt. Despite his ‘prayer’ to God, he is unable to escape from his guilt through anything because of a ‘wicked whisper’. ...

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