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The Rime of the ancient mariner





  • The Albatross: Represents the burden of guilt and sin carried by the Mariner after he kills the bird.
  • 2. Water: Symbolizes both life and death, as well as the unpredictable and uncontrollable forces of nature.
  • 3. The Sun and Moon: Represent divine and natural elements, respectively, and their importance in the Mariner's redemption.
  • 4. The Ship: Symbolizes humanity's journey through life, with the Mariner's experiences serving as a cautionary tale.
  • 5. Death and Life-in-Death: Personifications of death and the afterlife, highlighting the consequences of the Mariner's actions.

Supernatural Element

  • 1. The Ghostly Ship: The appearance of the ghost ship, crewed by Death and Life-in-Death, represents the supernatural forces at work in the world of the poem.
  • 2. The Albatross: The albatross itself is imbued with supernatural significance, especially after the Mariner kills it and brings a curse upon himself and his crew.
  • 3. The Specter Woman and her Death Mate:
  • These figures, encountered by the Mariner on his journey, add to the poem's otherworldly atmosphere and contribute to his sense of isolation and despair.
  • 4. The Life-in-Death's Dice Game: This game, played by Life-in-Death and the Mariner, symbolizes the unpredictable nature of fate and the supernatural powers that govern the Mariner's destiny.
  • 5. The Mariner's Supernatural Powers: As a result of his experiences, the Mariner gains supernatural abilities, such as the ability to see spirits and understand their messages.

Figures of Speech

  • Alliteration: The repetition of consonant sounds, such as in the line "The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew."
  • 2. Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds, as seen in the line "The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared."
  • 3. Anaphora: The repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive lines or clauses, such as in the lines "Water, water, everywhere, / And all the boards did shrink; / Water, water, everywhere, / Nor any drop to drink."
  • 4. Apostrophe: Addressing an absent or imaginary person or entity, such as when the Mariner addresses the Sun, Moon, and stars.
  • 5. Imagery: Vivid descriptions that appeal to the senses, such as the depiction of the
  • "slimy things" and "writhing snakes" in the sea.
  • 6. Simile: A comparison using "like" or "as," such as the comparison of the ship's movement to a bird in flight: "Like a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean."
  • 7. Metaphor: A direct comparison between two unlike things, such as the comparison of the Albatross to a Christian soul in the line "Instead of the cross, the Albatross /
  • About my neck was hung.”

Features of the traditional Medieval Ballad

  • Oral Tradition: Ballads were passed down orally from generation to generation before being written down, often by anonymous authors. This oral tradition influenced their structure and style.
  • 2. Narrative Structure: Ballads usually tell a story, often focusing on themes of love, heroism, tragedy, or the supernatural. The narrative is often presented in a straightforward manner, with minimal exposition or background information.
  • 3. Stanza Form: Ballads typically consist of quatrains (four-line stanzas) with a simple rhyme scheme, such as ABCB or ABAB.
  • Each stanza often contains alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and trimeter, creating a distinctive rhythm.
  • 4. Refrain or Incremental Repetition: Many ballads feature a repeated refrain or lines that are incrementally repeated with slight variations throughout the poem. This repetition serves to emphasize key themes or events and aids in oral transmission

Anonymous Authorship: Most medieval ballads were composed anonymously, with individual authors rarely credited or known. This anonymity allowed for the collective ownership and evolution of the ballad tradition within communities. 6. Traditional Themes and Motifs: Ballads often explore common themes and motifs found in medieval literature, such as the supernatural, chivalry, love, betrayal, and fate. These themes reflect the concerns and values of the society in which the ballads were created. 7. Characterization: Characters in ballads are often depicted in broad strokes, with minimal psychological depth or development. They serve primarily as archetypes within the narrative, embodying universal human qualities and experiences. 8. Simplicity of Language: Ballads typically employ a straightforward and accessible language, with minimal ornamentation or elaborate figurative language. This simplicity allowed for easy memorization and oral performance.


By Orazio Rodolfo Francesco Ragusa