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Published: 08-09-2019

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Ethics in The Rime of The Ancient Mariner: Cherishing Life

Anna Barbauld may possibly have believed that The Rime of the Ancient Mariner had no moral, but Coleridge is correct when he insists that “the poem had too much” (qtd. in Coleridge six: 272). The moral of his ballad is to appreciate all types of life. To create this theme, Coleridge utilizes imagery and symbolism to produce an implicit partnership between Life-in-Death and the Moon. The objective of their partnership is simple they each serve to punish the Mariner for his crime. In the end, their objective is to teach him a lesson that he will never forget.

To realize how they obtain this purpose, one particular should very first examine how the Moon sets up the premise of the theme. When the Moon is very first noticed, the Albatross is still alive and the Mariner remarks, “Whiles all the evening, via fog-smoke white / Glimmered the white moon-shine” (77-78). Even with the mist and fog, the imagery right here is pleasant. Glimmered has a optimistic connotation that implies beauty, whereas white is a pure color that typically represents innocence. One particular realizes that in this scene, the Mariner and his crew have the Moon’s blessing simply because they obtain the bird with hospitality. Even though it seems the Moon is not concerned either way, it becomes clear that she is when there is a shift in the visual language. After the Mariner shoots the Albatross, the pleasing imagery turns menacing to reveal the Moon’s disapproval of the Mariner’s actions. Now, the Mariner notices, “The death-fires danced at evening / The water, like a witch’s oils, / Burnt green, and blue and white” (128-130). Even though the Moon is not pointed out straight, frequent expertise dictates that the moon usually seems at night and the Mariner should have a supply of light to see this. He bestows the death-fires, which sailors of this time period believed to be a sign of disaster. Instead of glimmered, the water burnt, a word that uses the image of fire to develop a sense of discomfort. Plus, the word oil portrays the water as greasy and repulsive. The imagery of this scene is vital because it highlights the variations of when the Albatross was alive and when it was killed. This can also be inferred from the supplementary details on the side that declares, “And the Albatross begins to be avenged” (260). At this point, 1 is conscious that the Moon is not pleased due to the fact the Mariner shot the Albatross, but the reason for caring about the bird is nevertheless unknown. When Life-in-Death is introduced, the explanation is revealed and the central theme progresses.

Despite the fact that Life-in-Death and the Moon do not interact straight, their subtle partnership is depicted with the juxtaposition of beauty and terror. Life-in-Death’s beauty is 1 of the first aspects the Mariner notices as he describes her red lips and golden hair. Nonetheless, he rapidly adds, “Her skin was as white as leprosy,” (192). The contrast of beauty and terror here is important to the theme because of what they symbolize. Life-in-Death’s red lips and golden hair are all traits of the living, whereas white skin is akin to a corpse and leprosy was most likely fatal in this time period. Coleridge is equating beauty with life and equating almost everything horrific with death. Related parallels are drawn amongst Life-in-Death and the Moon to emphasize this theme. Later, the Mariner refers to the Moon as her for the initial time and notices that she is moving. Right after mentioning that she abides no exactly where he muses, “Softly she was going up, / And a star or two beside— / Her beams bemocked the sultry main” (265-267). Compared to Life-in-Death, the Moon is also depicted as feminine with words such as softly and bemocked, as if the dry, unappealing landscape could not evaluate to her beams. Coleridge also mentions her freedom and capability to move since that is how her beauty is symbolic for life corpses can't move by themselves, unless possessed by a spirit. Either way, they do not have the freedom of movement, which is an additional reason to appreciate life. Again, the Moon has the horrific traits that Life-in-Death possesses as nicely. As quickly as Life-in-Death wins the Mariner’s soul, the Sun quickly disappears and the Moon takes his location. The Moon is an image of terror as the Mariner recalls, “The horned Moon, with a single vibrant star / Within the nether tip / One right after one particular by the star-dogged Moon,” (209-211). In the course of this age, this not possible image of a lunar eclipse with one star in the shadow of the Moon was a sign of impending evil and evil is usually related with death. Now, by seeking at how Life-in-Death’s and the Moon’s beauty symbolizes life, compared to the horrific photos that represent death, the theme gradually begins to develop. One sees that life is lovely and death is not, but that does not lead to the conclusion that life need to be cherished. It is the seemingly careless actions of Life-in-Death that draw that conclusion. She wins more than the Mariner’s soul by way of a game of dice and though stealing a soul seems monumentous, Coleridge spends one particular or two lines describing her victory. This act may appear random, but as soon as compared with the crime of the Mariner, 1 realizes that this is the Mariner’s punishment. The Mariner shoots the Albatross for no given explanation. Life-in-Death randomly kills his crew and requires the Mariner’s soul for no cause stated. When the Mariner notes that the souls flew by “like the whizz of (his) cross-bow”, one can infer that this is about killing the Albatross. Now the finality of the message becomes clear the Mariner did not appreciate the Albatross’s life and he is punished for it.

By means of imagery and symbolism, 1 sees that the Moon and Life-in-Death do not condone life being murdered. This is why they punish the Mariner. The Moon sets up the query of why life must be appreciated and Life-in-Death provides the answer it is due to the fact one particular will be punished otherwise. Which, finally, ties back into the theme of appreciating all types of life. The reason for appreciating all forms of life is not necessarily to avoid punishment, but the threat of getting punished by Moon and Life-in-Death is what stresses the value of this appreciation and tends to make it one particular of the main morals in the story.
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