The Scarlet Albatross

mariner_shot

Another amazing symbol of the Rime is the Albatross. The crew succeeds in escaping  the tremendous blasts of the storm but the men can’t keep the route and find themselves in the South Pole. After days of “wondrous cold ” among the frightening icebergs all the mariners are psychologically shattered: they feel desperate and lonely. In that ghastly solitude an Albatross appears through the fog, which symbolically stands for the confusion of the mariners. The men are convinced that the bird is a sign God, it is good omen. Soon after the fog gives way to hope and confidence and the crew succeeds in sailing northward. Everything seems to be all right then, and the Wedding Guest feels the story very close to an end, when unexpectedly the Mariner confesses to have shot the Albaross with no apparent reason. He was a kind of…….bored. In this very moment the Mariner/teacher/poet seems to say to the guy.” When I was young and I used to be shallow and indifferent, just like You . But beware, I have been punished for this. Your fate won’t be different from mine if you are not aware of this”. The Albatross here is the symbol of missed salvation. Just like Jesus Christ, it had been sent by God to save the crew/mankind and just like Jesus, who had been eventually crucified, the Albatross was shot with a crossbow. The crew/mankind acts like a herd. At first the sailors despise the Mariner for having killed the Albatross but the they soon change their mind when they see after many days of “mist and fog”  “the Glorious Sun” rise and the ship move fast. The pervading euphoria doesn’t last long. Suddenly they stop “as if we were a panted ship upon a painted ocean”. The heat and thirst are unbearable. There is no way out again and the rage of the crew/herd vents on the Mariner, because it is his fault: HE had killed the Albatross, the herd does not feel responsible for his action. The chosen punishment is in the Puritan style. The dead body of the bird is tied round the Mariner’s neck as mark of his sin and memory for the whole community. It reminds me of the Scarlet Letter A, that Hester Prynne, the heroine of the Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, had to wear because of her adulterous affair. This is how the strict Puritan morality worked. Even though Hester had spent her life doing what she could to help the sick and the poor she was rejected by the villagers because she was a sinner. The A is her badge of shame. Hester will react wearing that mark with ostentatiuos pride, while the mariner will get rid of that “badge” only after a long path of expiation that will lead to his self awareness.

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2 thoughts on “The Scarlet Albatross

  1. I think that the crew sees the hope in the albatross and, when the ancient mariner kills it whitout reason, all the crew suffers.
    So according to my opinion, Coleridge wants to teach us to live with reason, as the sailor teaches it to wedding guest, that he was.
    In this poem we can see the weaknesses of the crew that represents the mob, who changes his mind easily, and easily exalts or to comdemns an action

  2. Howdy would youu mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m
    haviing a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution annd Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different
    then mst blogs and I’mlooking for something unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

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