In his ballad, The Rime of
the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge tells of an old man, the
Mariner, who, while at a wedding, reveals his story to a young man. The mariner
speaks of his journey to the South Pole and the good fortune that the albatross
brought while flying above them. After shooting the albatross down with a
crossbow, he speaks of the consequences that followed. The stillness of the
ship and the thirst in their throats, “Water, water, everywhere, and all the
boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink” (19-22)
reassured everyone of the wrong that he had done. Death covered the ship like a
blanket, saving only the mariner.

Throughout literature, biblical allusions are used to emphasize and
stress the gravity of a story or situation. The
Rime of the Ancient Mariner has direct allusions to the bible and
Christianity. For example, the Mariner said that they treated the albatross “…As
if it had been a Christian soul, We hail’d it in God’s name” (65-66); one could
conclude that the existence of the albatross signifies the presence of the Holy
Spirit. While they experience tough conditions in treacherous waters, the
albatross leads them through the fog to the still waters. It becomes clear that
the albatross represents the hope and comfort that God gives during times of tribulation
and difficulty. In Psalms 23, the verse reads, “He leads me beside the still
waters” is a perfect example of God, or symbolically the albatross, guiding and
comforting the people during difficult or seemingly impossible situations.

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In addition to this, the Mariner kills the albatross with a
crossbow, “‘with my crossbow I shot the Albatross” (81-82). Sent from God,
Jesus died on the cross and the albatross died from the crossbow. Samuel Taylor
Coleridge reinforces the allusion, “Instead of the cross, the Albatross About
my neck was hung” (140-141) presenting us with yet another instance of the
albatross being depicted as something parallel to Jesus and sent from God. “And
I had done an hellish thing, and it would work’em woe: For all averr’d, I had
kill’d the bird that made breeze blow. Ah wretch! The bird to slay, that made
the breeze to blow! ” (91-96). A sea of vengeance represents the sudden change
in environment and implies a deliberate consequence which was foreshadowed by
the Mariners act.

            Samuel Taylor Coleridge uses biblical
allusions to emphasize a reoccurring theme throughout the Bible; you reap what
you sow. One’s actions will always have consequences and he confesses this to the
young man in hopes that he may learn from his mistakes. Without the biblical allusions,
the story would not paint the depth of his message. 

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