LONG ANSWER QUESTIONS
Q1. What is the dramatic significance of the role of the albatross in the poem ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’?
Ans : The albatross is the main pivot on which the whole poem hangs. The poem is an exploration of evil, both that of men and nature and of salvation. The whole poem is based on the christian concept of sin, its punishment and redemption. The albatross is seen as a friendly spirit, a symbol of God’s favour, bringing good results. When the mariner kills the albatross, he taints himself with sin and loses connection with God. By destroying God’s creature, the mariner is exposed to the darker aspects of God. The albatross also exposes the fickle-minded nature of the sailors. In the end, when the mariner prays, albatross, a symbol of sin falls from him. The mariner is full of God’s grace. So the albatross is an instrument to expose the mariner’s sin and its redemption.
Q2. Whom did the mariners hold responsible for their misery? Was it correct to do so?
Ans : When the ancient mariner kills the albatross, the sailors are frightened that great evil will befall them. Killing a bird who brought the south wind and was great company, hurts the sailors very badly. But when no punishment follows the sin, the weather improves and the ship makes great advancement, the sailors change their opinion. But soon punishment follows, nemesis strikes them. The ship gets stuck in the silent sea and cannot move at all for days altogether. Then they undergo spells of thirst and parched throats. They are plagued by the polar spirit for killing the albatross. So they blame the mariner because it is their nature. They are too fickle-minded and have ‘herd-mentality’.
Q3. What is a ballad? Discuss ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ as a ballad. [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans : The poem is written in the style of a lyrical ballad. It is a narrative poem that tells a story, like other ballads. This poem also relates a dramatic story like other ballads. The ballads are also a kind of literary form which are suitable for singing or rhythmic chanting. This poem has a very striking and dramatic beginning in which the Wedding Guest is forcibly detained by the ancient mariner and the dialogues between both of them are very impressive. The language is simple and the use of archaic words by Coleidge adds authenticity to it. So the poem has all the qualities of a ballad and it is very distinguished in all respects.
Q4. The wedding guest’s meek and submissive nature prepares the ground for the ancient mariner’s story. Discuss. [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans : This contention is true because if the wedding had been very dominating, maybe he would have forced his way to the wedding. But the real truth is that the mesmerizing persona of the ancient mariner and his crazy and loony ways arrest the Wedding Guest. His glittering eyes paralyse the wedding guest. He beats his breast but is not able to get away. Later on the power of the mariner’s narrative spellbinds the guest. He is also influenced by the sheer strangeness of the story, it grips him somehow and he does not resist the mariner’s force later. So, though the guest is weak, it is the mariner’s ‘charisma’ that holds him.
Q5. Bring out the theme of crime and punishment in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner?
Ans : The poem hinges on the nemesis of crime and punishment. Defying God leads to worse results and punishment. The poem is an exploration of evil and of salvation. The slaughtered albatross, emerging spirits from beneath the murky spirits, slimy creatures of the sea, all are images of sin and evil and its consequences. The whole poem is based on the Christian concept of sin, its punishment and redemption. The albatross can be seen as a symbol of God’s favour, bringing good results. Killing of God’s creature is a sin of the biggest order so the mariner and the crew undergo so many problems. When the mariner prays, the albatross falls off and God’s grace shines on them and they are cleansed of their sins.
Q6. ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ is a firstperson narration of the story. Do you think this technique adds to its effectiveness?
Ans : The first-person narration is very effective in the poem. It not only creates more interest but also serves as an authentic narration. The story told by the mariner creates a personal interest, since it happened to him only. His direct involvement can be seen and how effectively the course of events effected him. The first person narration also gives a direct view of the character of the person, who is telling the story. So we get a clear view of the ancient mariner’s character and also get to feel his sorrow, his regret and his repentence with the same intensity.
Q7. When the Albatross arrived on the ship, the Mariners experienced a sense of joy and were infused with new hope. Comment.
[C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans : When the sailors set sail, everything was favourable. The crew was given a warm farewell. The ship was sailing towards south, so the sun appeared to be rising from the sea. It shone brightly and sank the same way. Several days out at the sea, a very fierce storm lashed the ship with force and drove it towards south. The masts of the ship were bent and its prow dipped in the sea. It looked like a person with his bent head before an enemy.
The ship reached the region of mists and ice with icebergs, snow clapped cliffs all around. The place was totally deserted. Then an albatross appeared through the fog. The marriners were greatly relieved at the sight of the bird because they had not seen any living being for many days. They called albatross, a Christian soul; because after the arrival of the bird the ice split and a good wind sprang up behind them. They were infused with a new hope and experienced a sense of joy as they were able to leave that polar region.