Write about Coleridge's use of Symbolism in Part I of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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James Clyburn

Symbols in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Part 1

Samuel Taylor Coleridge includes many uses of symbolism in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and in Part 1 a number of these are introduced in Part 1. The first real symbol we see is the Sun. The stanza which involves it tells how the Sun came out the sea, meaning it rose from the horizon and it shone brightly all day until it “went down into the sea” once more. This is primarily a symbol to reflect how much time has passed- one rise and fall of the Sun is obviously one day passing but the Sun also has a number of other connotations. The fact that it “shone bright” symbolises peace and happiness as well as safety. For a sea voyage, as is the suggestion by the inclusion of the marital vocabulary (“Mariner”, “ship”, “harbour”…), bright Sun would suggest clear blue skies which would indicate a safe and peaceful journey for the Mariner.

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In association with the Sun, it’s ‘opposite’ – the moon – is referred to in a later stanza and with it more pleasant imagery. Coleridge writes that “through fog-smoke white,

Glimmered the white Moon-shine”. This suggests that although conditions were maybe not ideal out at sea, the moon was there to light the way. The moon is also a conventional symbol for romance, which also ties in with this theme of astrology and pleasance.

Continuing with the theme of weather, the storm and ice in the first part of the poem also plays a big part. It ...

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