In his ballad, The Rime ofthe Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge tells of an old man, theMariner, who, while at a wedding, reveals his story to a young man. The marinerspeaks of his journey to the South Pole and the good fortune that the albatrossbrought while flying above them. After shooting the albatross down with acrossbow, he speaks of the consequences that followed.
The stillness of theship and the thirst in their throats, “Water, water, everywhere, and all theboards 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 ablanket, saving only the mariner.Throughout literature, biblical allusions are used to emphasize andstress the gravity of a story or situation. TheRime of the Ancient Mariner has direct allusions to the bible andChristianity. For example, the Mariner said that they treated the albatross “…Asif it had been a Christian soul, We hail’d it in God’s name” (65-66); one couldconclude that the existence of the albatross signifies the presence of the HolySpirit. While they experience tough conditions in treacherous waters, thealbatross leads them through the fog to the still waters.
It becomes clear thatthe albatross represents the hope and comfort that God gives during times of tribulationand difficulty. In Psalms 23, the verse reads, “He leads me beside the stillwaters” is a perfect example of God, or symbolically the albatross, guiding andcomforting the people during difficult or seemingly impossible situations. In addition to this, the Mariner kills the albatross with acrossbow, “‘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 TaylorColeridge reinforces the allusion, “Instead of the cross, the Albatross Aboutmy neck was hung” (140-141) presenting us with yet another instance of thealbatross being depicted as something parallel to Jesus and sent from God. “AndI had done an hellish thing, and it would work’em woe: For all averr’d, I hadkill’d the bird that made breeze blow. Ah wretch! The bird to slay, that madethe breeze to blow! ” (91-96). A sea of vengeance represents the sudden changein environment and implies a deliberate consequence which was foreshadowed bythe Mariners act.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge uses biblicalallusions to emphasize a reoccurring theme throughout the Bible; you reap whatyou sow. One’s actions will always have consequences and he confesses this to theyoung man in hopes that he may learn from his mistakes. Without the biblical allusions,the story would not paint the depth of his message.