Themes in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The themes throughout this poem are primarily Christian-based and focus on sin, suffering, and eventual absolution.The core theme is that every creature has value, simply because their existence is indicative of God’s love and power. This theme informs the majority of the tale, coupled with the cautionary assertion that pride is man’s greatest sin and is what prohibits him from developing a spiritual relationship with God. If a man sins, the only true way for him to atone for his crime is to confess and commit sincere acts of penance, and only then may he be recused. Another key theme is the presence of supernatural spirits who influence the natural world by intervening in the lives of men. The presence, and actions, of these beings defy human understanding.
Themes Examples in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Seven Parts
"He prayeth best, who loveth best..." See in text (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Seven Parts)
Coleridge's moral of the story relates to having a relationship with God. To have a positive relationship with God, this stanza suggests that it is necessary to realize that God made and loves everything in the world, not just humans.
"The Mariner hath his will..." See in text (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Seven Parts)
Coleridge indicates something supernatural early in this poem by presenting the readers with an ancient and skinny Mariner who appears to be able to compel the Wedding-Guest to listen to him with nothing more than his stare. That the Mariner has supernatural qualities foreshadows the likewise otherworldly elements of his story, signaling that they will be a strong thematic element throughout.
"Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—..." See in text (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Seven Parts)
The Mariner describes the complete isolation of the ship in the Antarctic, and how the sailors don’t recognize anything in the area. This section, and others like it later in the poem, describes and celebrates the majesty and power of nature, a defining characteristic of Romanticism and one of the themes Coleridge explores throughout this poem.