The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Teaching Guide
- 8 pages
- Subject: Allusion, Historical Context, Metaphor, Meter, Plot, Rhyme, Themes, Lesson Plans and Educational Resources
- Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Additional The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Resources
So you’re going to teach “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its problematic spots, teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into romantic poetry, the lyric ballad as a genre, and important themes regarding nature, imagination and spiritual redemption.
About This Document
Owl Eyes teaching guides have been designed to help first-time and veteran teachers open up classic works of literature for their students. Our guides provide rich background information, identify key themes and topics, and offer creative and practical approaches to teaching the text.
The main components of each guide include the following:
- A concise history of the text
- An explanation of significant allusions
- Teaching approaches and discussion questions
- Tricky issues to address while teaching
- Alternative teaching approaches
- A list of complementary texts
These teaching guides offer valuable context and promote meaningful discussions about novels, plays, poems, and stories that have captivated English Language Arts students for generations. Each guide is comprehensive and concise, thought-provoking and practical.
Approaches and Discussion Questions Excerpt
Theme of the Redemptive Power of Storytelling: Coleridge’s poem is a frame story, meaning that it is a story-within-a-story. The external frame is that of the wedding-guest, who comes across the ancient Mariner and is drawn into conversation. The internal story is the Mariner’s tale, which is imbued with a number of supernatural elements. At the conclusion, we learn that the Mariner finds (temporary) relief from pain through storytelling. The Mariner is doomed to wander the land telling his story and imparting the lessons he has since learned. In this way, Coleridge’s poem is about the power of poetry and stories themselves.
- For discussion: How does Coleridge intertwine the story of the wedding-guest with the story of the Mariner? What effects does this story-within-a-story structure have on readers?
Supernatural Elements: Coleridge was fascinated with the supernatural. Along with other romantic poets of his time, Coleridge believed that traditional poetry had become lifeless and lacked imagination. Coleridge uses spirits, demons, and visions to create new, imaginative imagery and evoke a feeling of “unreality” in the reader. Have students highlight passages where supernatural events occur. These may include the appearance of Death or the temporary re-animation of the corpses of the sailors.
- For discussion: Who do the First Voice and Second Voice belong to in Part The Fifth and Part The Sixth? What is the purpose of Coleridge’s supernatural elements? How does Coleridge intertwine the supernatural with spirituality, religion, and morality?
Additional Discussion Suggestions for Engaging with Coleridge:
- Consider using students’ experiences with water and the ocean to help them to connect to the subject matter. While reading the poem, play audio recordings of noises typical of the ocean. The sound of waves, birds and sea creatures will help Coleridge’s words come to life. How does Coleridge’s language mimic the sounds of the ocean? What particular lines are the most evocative? Why?
- Coleridge writes about loneliness. Perhaps students have never been stranded alone on the ocean, but have they ever felt isolated or even figuratively “lost at sea”? What was a time when they felt ““Alone, alone, all, all alone / Alone on a wide wide sea”? Use the description of the Mariner stranded at sea amongst the lifeless bodies of his crew to reflect further on Coleridge’s treatment of loneliness and alienation.
- Vivid imagery exists throughout the poem. Which of the many images do you find especially memorable or particularly striking? Why do they appeal to you?