THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER

Language, Form and Structure

Language, Form and Structure

Dramatic Dialogue– In part VI the mariner uses two voices. Coleridge sets the short section out as if it were a play script so that the reader can distinguish between the voices and follow their conversation. One speaker asks questions, the other seems to answer. The reader is removed from the mariner’s own voice just as the mariner was in a trance and instead we hear the other two voices, just as the mariner does. Instead of the mariner retelling what they said, the reader (or listener) is instead being told directly by the voices.

Ballad– A ballad is an ancient form of story telling often told to music. This is why it has such a rhythmic and clearly rhyming structure as it was to be sung. Ballads were passed down in this way rather than being written so the mariner’s tale fits in well with this tradition, as he must tell the tale while he travels in order to unburden himself.

Colour– The colour green is used throughout the poem to show that something is supernatural. At the beginning the ice is an unnatural emerald green; the ocean is also green and turns a variety of colours that remind the mariner of witches’ oils so they seem magical and mysterious.

The colour red is associated with death, for example the water turns red when the crew dies, moreover ‘Life-in- Death’ has red lips. However her red lips are not just associated with death ‘her looks were free’ showing red to be a colour of sexuality or promiscuity linking her with sin but also nature. The bride’s cheeks are red as she walks into the church, there could be a link, however the chaos explored in this poem means that the link between the two female characters could be a coincidence.

Frame narrative– The poem begins with a wedding, a scene from normal, rural life. The Mariner is clearly separate from this scene and cannot be a part of it. The poem begins and ends on this scene as it is framed by the wedding. The wedding guest interrupts the mariner occasionally to express his fear of the mariner, his appearance and the events he is describing. At one point the mariner describes the sailor’s predicament -stuck on a windless ocean -as being like a ‘painted ship upon a painted ocean,’ just as now the mariner’s tale is framed