What is the tone of the “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
The tone of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a mixture of eerie and melancholic. Coleridge uses vivid and emotive language to describe the Mariner's horrific experiences and convey a sense of loneliness and isolation. The poem is steeped in supernatural elements, including the appearance of the ghost ship and the curse that the Mariner endures. The tone is one of foreboding and unease, with the Mariner's story serving as a warning about the consequences of ignoring the natural world.
Detailed answer:

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a narrative poem that is written in a variety of tones that range from the supernatural and eerie to reflective and philosophical. The overall tone of the poem can be described as melancholy and somber. The poem explores themes of sin, redemption, and the natural world, and the tone shifts as the mariner’s journey progresses.

In the beginning, the tone is ominous and supernatural, with lines such as "The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast, for he heard the loud bassoon" setting a foreboding mood. As the mariner tells his story, the tone becomes more reflective and philosophical, with lines like "He prayeth well, who loveth well both man and bird and beast" emphasizing the importance of love and compassion. However, the mariner's guilt and remorse for killing the albatross results in a somber and haunting tone, especially in the lines "Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink."

The poem's final tone is one of redemption, with the mariner's penance leading to his salvation. The tone is hopeful and inspiring, as the mariner realizes the importance of being kind to all living things. The lines "He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all" reflect this newfound appreciation for life.

In conclusion, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is a poem that uses different tones to explore themes of sin, redemption, and the natural world. The ominous and supernatural tone in the beginning gradually shifts to a reflective and philosophical tone, and then to a somber and haunting tone. Ultimately, the poem ends on a hopeful and inspiring tone, emphasizing the importance of love and compassion for all living things.

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