Why Is The Poem The Ancient Mariner Important To Walton?

by Amy

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” penned by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is a seminal work of Romantic poetry published in 1798 as part of the Lyrical Ballads. The poem unfolds as a haunting narrative told by an old sailor, the Ancient Mariner, to an eager listener, the character of Walton. This frame story structure frames the Mariner’s tale within Walton’s narrative, adding layers of meaning and thematic depth to the poem.

Character Analysis: Walton

Walton serves as the primary narrator and listener in Coleridge’s poem. He is depicted as a curious and empathetic character, driven by a thirst for knowledge and adventure. Walton’s philosophical nature is evident in his eagerness to hear the Mariner’s story and his subsequent reflections on its moral implications.

Walton’s Relationship with the Mariner

The encounter between Walton and the Ancient Mariner is pivotal to understanding the poem’s significance. Walton, a seafarer himself, serves as a foil to the Mariner. While Walton is driven by ambition and curiosity about the unknown, the Mariner embodies the consequences of defying natural laws and moral principles. This contrast highlights Walton’s role as a listener who learns from the Mariner’s harrowing experiences.

Themes and Moral Reflection

Central themes in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” such as isolation, guilt, redemption, and the consequences of violating natural laws, resonate deeply with both Walton and the Mariner. Walton’s interactions with the Mariner provoke moral reflection and philosophical contemplation, as he grapples with the implications of the Mariner’s tale on his own life and beliefs.

See also: Why Might A Writer Use Graphical Elements In A Poem?

Literary Context and Symbolism

Within the context of Romantic literature, Walton symbolizes the Romantic ideals of imagination, nature, and the supernatural. His role as a listener and recorder of the Mariner’s tale underscores Coleridge’s exploration of these themes. Walton’s journey parallels the Romantic quest for knowledge and spiritual enlightenment, reflecting the era’s fascination with the sublime and the unknown.

Impact on the Narrative

Coleridge deliberately chose to frame the Mariner’s tale within Walton’s narrative to deepen the poem’s thematic exploration. Walton’s reactions to the Mariner’s story serve to amplify its moral message and philosophical depth. Through Walton’s perspective, readers gain insights into the transformative power of storytelling and the consequences of human actions on the natural world.

Historical and Philosophical Context

The character of Walton is influenced by the historical and philosophical currents of Coleridge’s time. As a Romantic poet, Coleridge was deeply engaged with themes of nature, human consciousness, and the supernatural. Walton’s character may reflect Coleridge’s own experiences and worldview, particularly his fascination with exploration and moral inquiry.

In conclusion, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” holds profound importance to Walton as it serves as a vehicle for moral reflection, philosophical inquiry, and a deeper understanding of human nature and the natural world. Through Walton’s interaction with the Mariner’s tale, Coleridge crafts a narrative that explores timeless themes and challenges readers to confront the consequences of their actions. Walton’s role as a listener and interpreter underscores the poem’s enduring relevance and its place within the broader context of Romantic literature and philosophical discourse.

FAQs “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to Walton

1. Why do you think that this poem is important to Walton?

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” holds significant importance to Walton primarily due to its thematic resonance with his own experiences and philosophical inquiries. As a seafarer driven by ambition and curiosity, Walton finds himself captivated by the Mariner’s tale of guilt, redemption, and the consequences of violating moral and natural laws. The poem serves as a mirror to Walton’s own journey and prompts deep introspection into the ethical dilemmas and existential questions he faces during his Arctic expedition.

2. What is the significance of the Ancient Mariner in Frankenstein?

In Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein,” the reference to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” serves as a literary device that enriches the narrative and underscores thematic parallels. Victor Frankenstein, much like the Mariner, grapples with the consequences of his actions—specifically, his reckless pursuit of scientific knowledge and the creation of life. The Mariner’s tale of isolation, guilt, and redemption resonates with Victor’s own moral journey and the profound loneliness he experiences as a result of his scientific ambition.

3. Why does it matter that “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is referenced in Frankenstein?

The reference to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in “Frankenstein” deepens the novel’s exploration of themes such as guilt, hubris, and the pursuit of knowledge. It serves as a cultural touchstone that enhances the reader’s understanding of Victor Frankenstein’s character and moral dilemma. By drawing parallels between Victor and the Mariner, Shelley invites readers to reflect on the ethical implications of scientific discovery and the consequences of playing God.

4. What is important to Robert Walton?

Robert Walton, the character who frames the narrative in “Frankenstein,” is driven by a quest for knowledge, discovery, and personal ambition. His Arctic expedition mirrors the Romantic ideal of exploration and the quest for the sublime. Walton values human connection and the exchange of ideas, as evidenced by his fascination with the Mariner’s story. Ultimately, Walton’s journey serves as a backdrop against which Victor Frankenstein’s tragic tale unfolds, highlighting the dangers of unchecked ambition and the moral responsibility that comes with scientific innovation.

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