Mythological and Archetypal Analysis of the Rime of the Ancient

Mythological and Archetypal Analysis of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner
He holds him with his glittering eye–
The wedding-guest stood still,
And listens like a three-years' child:
The mariner hath his will. (I3-16)
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline
them” (Proverbs 13:24). The punishment the Ancient Mariner had received resulted from his misbehavior,
and for his deed, the God’s will upon him was cast. And as a custom that moves from generation to
generation -from Father to son- the Ancient Mariner’s will upon the wedding guest was about to cast.
This Lyrical Ballad embodies a great amount of symbolism which in fact provides a great source of literary
power.The mythological and archetypal approach to literature assumes that there is a collection of
symbols, images, characters, and motifs (i.e. archetypes) that evokes basically the same response in all
people. According to the psychologist Carl Jung, mankind possesses a "collective unconscious" that
contains these archetypes and that is common to all of humanity. The purpose of this essay is to identify
these archetypal patterns and discuss how they function in this literary work. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was first published in 1798 in Lyrical Ballads, then revised and published
in 1817 as the version that is popular today. Coleridge received some help from the poet William
Wordsworth as the original poem was meant to be created in collaboration. However, Wordsworth’s
manner proved unsuited for the purpose, and only contributed half a dozen lines Part II, ---Lines 13-16
and Lines 226-227--- and also suggesting the shooting of the albatross and the reanimation of the dead
bodies to work the ship ---Lines 93 and 216---. Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner epitomizes
the notion of transformation which is best seen through the novel’s symbolic hero archetypes: the quest,
initiation, and the sacrificial scapegoat.
First body Paragraph:
In mythological analysis the first Hero archetype is called The Quest.The archetype of the Quest is found
through the poem of the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner quite often, and pushes the reader to keep track
of the story all the time. “In the Quest, the hero undertakes some long journey during which he or she
must perform impossible tasks, battle with monsters, solve unanswered riddles, and overcome
insurmountable obstacles in order to save the kingdom “(Guerin 190). What started as an enjoyable
journey became the nightmare of a struggle with God’s wrath. After killing the Albatross, the Old Mariner
became prisoner of his own deed which condemned his shipmates and himself. It got proved that the
most powerful enemy one’s may have is God, as it is expressed in the poem:
Nor dim nor red like God's own head,
The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird,
‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That brought the fog and mist. (97-102.)
It is noticeable the relationship between the dim and the red color , which according to which symbolizes
the anger of God, also represented by the Sun, an heroic and courageous force, creative and guiding—
this is the core of solar symbolism (317). God always is vengative to humans as they keep sinning and
defying his will and commands. The Mariner is the manifestation of the sins humans usually commit with
premeditation, thinking that nobody will be punished for that deed. Once one sins, God finds the way to
make that person make conscience of what he or she has done, and try to undo it. Some people may see
the way God acts as a curse, as mentioned by the Mariner:
Seven days, seven nights saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.(261-262)
Humans usually see God as a mean being when something catastrophic happens without even notice
what they have done. Therefore, it is observable within the poem imagery an homologically juxtaposed
reference brought by the number seven; the seven capital sins: vainglory (pride), avarice (greed),
gluttony, lust, sloth, envy, anger; and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Understanding, counsel,
fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear to Lord and wisdom. The Mariner goes through confronting what is
properly the law in favor and against God. He must please God’s will by fixing all the wrong he has done.
The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea ( 288-291)
Through praying, humans clean their soul and sink their guilt from their heart. Coleridge showed how the
Albatross, evidence of the Mariners’ sin, died into the Sea, and at the same time a spiritual rebirth of his
soul emerged. The quest was complete. We have seen through the Quest Archetype of the Hero that the
Ancient Mariner starts a journey in which he confronts obstacles that in his case represent his
punishment for killing the bird. This is a particular Hero whose kingdom to save is the world without even
having an account of it. Later on he returns from his Journey.