In the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge, it is evident that there is a deeper meaning behind what is written. This poem is not just about a man that has been cursed on his ship. It is much more than that. Throughout the entire poem the theme of Christianity is shown significantly. There is an abundance of Christian symbolism used by Samuel Coleridge to present his message to the reader.
The poem is an account of a person’s sin, punishment, and redemption.There is obvious evidence of Christian symbols in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, there are “mention[s] of Christ, Mary Queen, Heaven, Spirits blest, Him who died on the cross, penance, Dear Lord in Heaven, a holy hermit, and shrieving” (Gose 239). In part one of the poem the Mariner states “as if it had a Christian soul, we hailed it in God’s name” (Coleridge 65-66). The Mariner and the crew speak of the albatross as if it was from God. They are aware that it is a gift to them. The crew and the Mariner both know that it is a blessing from God and the Mariner still proceeds to kill it.
That is where the evidence of sin begins in the poem. The poem can be compared to the story of Paul in the Bible.Paul was once a persecutor of Christians; he tried to remove Christianity as a whole. God then appeared to him and showed him his mercy and redemption and changed his life. Paul then became one of the most instrumental witnesses of Christianity. He went throughout the Middle East telling his story to anyone willing to listen.
Just like Paul, the Mariner sinned and was shown grace by God.In Christianity, every sin that is committed is carried as a burden. Just like sin, the albatross is a symbol of sin. Throughout the poem the Mariner is shown “as an active, sympathetic sufferer engaging with guilt [and] sin” (Hillier 13). The Mariner carries the albatross with him as his burden, this is shown when Coleridge states: “the albatross about my neck was hung” (Coleridge 140-141).
The Mariner has committed a sin by killing the albatross, thus separating him from God. Critics say that the albatross is of little significance, but that is not the case. Without the death of the albatross there would not be a story. There would be no redemption for the Mariner. The albatross is of great importance in the poem.In the end the Mariner’s penance was to go and tell his story to anyone that would listen.
In Christian teachings, followers of Christ went out and became witnesses of what Christ had done for them. In the Bible it says: “[f]or thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard” (Acts 22:15 KJV). Just like those who became witnesses for Christ, the Mariner did the same. He was a “witness” to what he went through, to the redemption and forgiveness he received for his sins. The Mariner received grace for the sinful life that he had lived.
The events that the Mariner endured were to open his eyes to the sin he was in and because of Christ “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).Through the entire poem the Mariner is put through trials that he cannot endure in his own power, and in the end is shown grace. By telling his story, he is telling others about the grace and redemption that can be found in Christianity. He is given a chance by God to change his life.
All throughout the poem there are symbols of Christianity, the albatross symbolizing sin, and the Mariner as the sinful human nature.