Literary Devices In Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

Submitted By kelceenelson
Words: 1198
Pages: 5

Poetic Incursions Poetry is a performance that seeks to influence a specific reaction or convey a moral to its audience. A manner in which authors can accomplish this goal is by embedding members of their audience within the literature itself. This allows for them to control the reaction the embedded audience will have, thereby ultimately influencing their intended audience. Examples of this tactic are seen in both “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge, who uses the Wedding-Guest as his internal audience, and “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti, who uses the goblins. I will first examine Coleridge’s poem and what the Wedding-Guest interrupts, changes, and questions about the story. I will then do the same with Rossetti’s poem, along with a discussion of how each author’s embedded audience contributes to the moral of the poem. Both Coleridge and Rossetti successfully embed audience figures within their texts; these figures provide clues to the reader about how one should react during critical points of the poem, in addition to conveying the moral of the poem.
In “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” the Wedding-Guest interrupts the Mariner’s tale to increase suspense and make the reader anxious about what will happen next. This can be seen when he says: Higher and higher every day
Till over the mast at noon—
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast
For he heard the loud bassoon (Coleridge line 29-32)
The Wedding-Guest’s interruption piques interest in the story and induces a sense of eagerness to hear what will follow. It also creates a sense of impatience with the Wedding-Guest for causing an interruption. Interruption by an embedded audience is a useful strategy when authors want to invoke interest from the reader in their literature. The Wedding Guest as an internal audience figure helps to change the story at moments when the reader may be forming a false impression. One change that exemplifies this is when the Wedding-Guest says:
‘I fear thee, ancient Mariner!’
‘Be calm thou, Wedding-Guest.
Twas not the souls that fled in pain
Which to their courses came again
But a troop of spirits blessed.’ (Coleridge line 346-350)
This exclamation by the Wedding-Guest helps to steer the reader’s opinion in the desired direction; it addresses the possibility that the Mariner may be someone to fear and assures the reader that he is not. In this way, Coleridge ensures that his readers develop an accurate perception of the Mariner.
Coleridge also uses the Wedding-Guest to ask a question in the poem that comes at a pivotal point in the story. When the wedding-guest asks “‘Why look’st thou so?’--/‘With my crossbow/ I shot the Albatross’” he addresses the Albatross, which symbolizes the poem’s moral of loving all things (Coleridge line 81-82). This question is crucial because it does multiple things: introduces the moral, interrupts the story, and invokes a question in the reader. This subtle introduction of the poem’s moral would go unnoticed by the reader, but the question asked by the Wedding-Guest creates a pause in the story and attracts the reader’s attention. It is also a way Coleridge uses interruption; he interrupts the story and answers the Wedding-Guest’s question outside the context of his tale. This could also be seen as an interruption, and it is important here because it creates a mystery by removing the answer from the context of the story. Leaving the key question unanswered is another way the author piques interest and retains attention, simultaneously introducing the moral of the poem through the
Wedding-Guest’s question.
In the poem “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti, Rossetti uses a different, more active type of audience to influence her readers. The goblins may not initially be seen as an audience figure; however they act as an internal audience to Laura and Lizzie’s struggles. The goblins play a key role in answering the reader’s questions, changing, and interrupting at key points