The Macksey Journal


Through an ecocritical perspective, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner has been shown to delineate the relationship between man and nature, including the disastrous effects of the Mariner's killing of the Albatross. The conversation should extend to the poem's function as ecological allegory and cautionary tale, revealing what happens when man's devastation kills nature and, ultimately, destroys himself. As such, the Mariner and his men can be seen as representative of humankind, the killing of the Albatross as humanity's destruction of the planet, and the Wedding-Guest as future generations who must suffer the consequences of the actions of those who came before. This paper examines the allegorical links between The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and recent environmental studies because Coleridge's words are now more important than ever. If the destruction of our planet does not come to a halt, many of the one million species facing extinction will be pushed over the brink; the consequences of this tremendous loss in biodiversity will be far-reaching, contributing to a global scarcity of clean water. This paper also examines the discourse regarding the rhetorical effectiveness of the famous lines that end the Mariner's tale, concluding that if we heed Coleridge's warning and take the Mariner's experiences and resulting moral to heart, we can save the planet, and we can save ourselves.