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05_RIME_ class x

Summary

 

  • The Rime of the Ancient Marineris one of the greatest poem of English literature.
  • Written in the form and style of a folk ballad, it first appeared in Lyrical Ballads in 1798.
  • Coleridge introduces his story by describing an old grey-bearded sailor who approaches three young men headed for a wedding celebration and compels one of them, the groom’s next-of-kin, to hear his story.
  • At first the intrusion is resented by the wedding guest, but the young man is transfixed by the Ancient Mariner’s “glittering eye” and can do nothing but sit on a stone and listen to his strange tale.
  • The story is remarkable indeed, and the listener soon falls captive to the suspense building up, responding at first with fear and then with horror as the tale unfolds.
  • There was a little apprehension among the ship’s crew as they sailed clear of the harbours, bound for the open sea. At this point, hearing the music of the bassoon drifting from the direction of the wedding, the wedding guest imagines that the bride has entered the hall, but he is still unable to tear himself away from the Mariner’s story.
  • Several days out at sea, a storm arose and the Mariner’s vessel was driven before the wind in a constant southerly direction, headed toward the South Pole. As it entered the “land of ice, and of fearful sounds, where no living thing was to be seen,” a feeling of foreboding came over the helpless crew, and so it was with great relief that the crew eventually greeted the sight of an albatross, a huge seabird, flying through the fog towards them.
  • The Ancient Mariner tells his listener, “As if it had been a Christian soul/We hailed it in God’s name.” As it flew around the ship, the ice cracked and split, and a wind from the south propelled the ship out of the frigid regions, into a foggy stretch of water. The albatross followed behind it.
  • Everyone took this bird as a good omen, and the bird followed the ship faithfully as it returned northward. At this point a pained look crosses the Mariner’s face, and the wedding guest asks him, “Why look’st thou so?” The Mariner confesses that he had shot and killed the albatross with his crossbow and brought a curse down upon them all.
  • The south wind continued to propel them northward, but somehow the old sailor realised he had done “a hellish thing” and retribution would soon follow, in the form of loneliness and spiritual anguish.
  • The crew at first berated their mate for killing the bird that had brought the change in the breeze. But as the ship made its way out of the fog and mist and continued on, they decided that it must be the bird that had brought the mist. Perhaps their shipmate had rightfully killed it after all.
  • The vessel sailed on northward until it reached the equator, where the breeze ceased and the craft was becalmed. The wind pushed the ship into the silent sea where the sailors were stranded, the winds died down, and the ship was “As idle as a painted ship/Upon a painted ocean.” The men had no water to drink, it looked as if the sea was rotten and slimy creatures crawled out of it and walked across the surface.
  • The water looked green, blue, and white and creatures giving out light jumped in and out of the water, around the ship, creating an eerie atmosphere.

 

 

 

Questions & Answers

 

Q.1    Whom does the ancient Mariner stop and why? How do his looks affect the person addressed?

Ans.   The ancient Mariner stops one of the three Wedding Guests to tell him his tale of sin and suffering. The Wedding-Guest is awe­struck by the strange looks. Soon after, the hypnotic effect of the Mariner’s glittering eye makes him stop there.

 

Q.2    Why is the Wedding-Guest restless?

Ans.   The Wedding-Guest is restless because he has been forcibly detained by the ancient Mariner whereas he is in a hurry to go to attend a wedding.His presence is necessary as he is closely related to the bridegroom.

 

Q.3    Why does the Wedding-Guest call the ancient Mariner a grey­beard loon?

Ans.   The Wedding-Guest calls the ancient Mariner a grey-beard loon because he finds that not only are the ancient Mariner’s looks frightful but also his behaviour is equally strange as he stops peopleon their way to tell them his story. It is a rather peculiar thing to do.

 

Q.4    How does the mariner describe the movement of the ship as it sails away from the land?

Ans.   The ship was waved off on harbour among loud cheers. All the sailors were in high spirits. The ship gradually left the harbour leaving behind the church, the hill and the lighthouse.

 

Q.5    What kind of weather did the sailors enjoy at the beginning of the journey?

Ans.   Initially, the weather was pleasant. The sun seemed to be rising joyfully out of the sea and it set        into the sea. As the journey progressed, it started becoming hot.

 

Q.6    “And thus spake on that ancient man.” Comment on the use of the words ‘spake’ and ‘ancient’ in this line.

Ans.   ‘Spake’ is an archaic form of ‘spoke’ and ‘ancient’ has been used to mean ‘old’. Such a use of the vocabulary lends an archaic effect to the poem. Traditional Ballads often contain archaic language. Hence the words give a touch of remoteness to the narrative and stylistically enhance its beauty.

 

Q.7    How does the poet describe the sailing of the ship under the effect of the storm? What light does he throw on the sailors’ state of mind?

Ans.   Under the impact of the storm, the ship looked like someone trying to runaway from an enemy who is chasing him. The sailors gripped in fear and pain with death staring them in their faces panicked. In an utter state of uncertainty they helplessly got drifted by the storm.

 

 

Q.8    How did the sailors reach the land of mist and snow?

Ans.   The sea that was calm to begin with soon became tempestuous. The ship braved the fury of the storm initially but in the long run it got drifted to the south and it moved to the land of mist and snow.

 

Q.9    Why does the poet compare ice to an emerald?

Ans.   The dark bottle green colour of the Antarctic ocean gives the icebergs an emerald look. The colour of the water is being reflected in the huge masses of ice.

 

 

Q.10  Why did the albatross follow the ship and how did the sailors treat it?

Ans.   The albatross followed the ship for the food it got from the ship and for the sailors’ company with whom it used to play.

The sailors treated the albatross as a bird of good omen who helped them out of the land of mist and snow. They fondly fed it and played with it.

 

Q.11  What was the Mariner’s crime? Why itwas thought to be a crime?

Ans.   The Mariner had wantonly killed the innocent albatross who had brought new hope to the sailors and whose arrival coincided with the blowing of the South Wind. It was criminal to killany harmless creature and more so the very creature who had brought a turning point for the better in their lives.

 

Q.12  How does the mariner express the fact that the  ship was completely surrounded by icebergs?

Ans.   The mariner describes how emerald coloured blocks of ice as high as the mast of the ship floated around the ship blocking all view. The repetition of “The ice was here, the ice was there, The ice was all around” makes the description very vivid and graphic.

 

Q.13  Explain: ‘the furrow followed free’.

Ans.   A furrow is a groove or a track made in a field by ploughing. Here it refers to the splitting of water caused behind a ship due to its forward movement. The line suggests that the ship sailed on smoothly.

 

Q.14  What was the terrible deed done by the Mariner? Why do you think he did it?

Ans.   The ancient Mariner killed the albatross with his crossbow. It was just a wanton act, as the Mariner had no reason to thoughtlessly kill this bird. Later on, he was remorseful about it and he had to pay a heavy price for this irresponsible foolish act.

 

Q.15  Why does the mariner say that ‘no sweet bird did follow’?

Ans.   The mariner sounds full of remorse as he makes this statement. Hemeans to say that as he had killed this harmless and lovable bird it could not and did not follow the ship any longer.

 

Q.16  How did the Mariners react to the hellish thing of the killing of the Albatross?

Ans.   The Mariners were afraid that great grief and misfortune would befall them as a result of the killing of the Albatross. They said that it was unfortunate that the bird that made the south wind to blow was killed.

 

Q.17  How did the sailing conditions change after the ship had moved out of the land of mist and snow?

Ans.   As the ship moved out of the land of mist and snow the winds stopped blowing altogether. The sails of the ship dropped down and everything came to a standstill. They got stranded in the sea.

 

Q.18  How does the mariner describe the fact that they were completely motionless in the middle of the sea?

Ans.   The motionless state of the ship is graphically described by the Ancient Mariner when he compares the ship to ‘a painted’ ship upon a painted ocean. The simile brings out the idea – that the ship is as idle (still) as painting of a ship.

 

Q.19  What does the line ‘Water, water every where’ signify? Why were they not able to drink a single drop of water?

Ans.   Itsignifies the peculiar fate the sailors had to face. Although they were surrounded by immeasurable amount of sea water, they had not a drop of water to wet their parched mouths. Their own stock of fresh water was exhausted and they couldn’t drink the saline sea water.

 

Q.20  What or who did the mariners feel was responsible for their suffering?

Ans.   Having once blamed and acquitted the ancient Mariner, the fellow mariners finally blamed him and held him responsible for their misfortune and suffering. They felt that the wrongful killing of the albatross subjected them to such a perpetual agony.

 

Q.21  Asthe mariners are stuck up, the ancient Mariner invokes Christ. What does it convey? Do you find any element of irony in the invocation?

Ans.   The invocation conveys the ancient Mariner’s deep sense of agony and repentance at having killed the albatross. Now only Christ could save his rotting and sinful soul. It is ironical that the ancient Mariner seeks Christ’s help in saving his soul after killing a Christian soul i.e. the Albatross.

 

Q.22  Briefly explain the sailor’s attitude towards the death of Albatross.

Ans.   First the sailors condemned its killing saying that the Albatross was a bird of good omen. It had made the breeze to blow. Later on, they approved of its killing holding it responsible for the fog and the mist. Then once again these fickle-minded ship-mates accused the Mariner for making their lives miserable by killing the Albatross.

 

 

Q.23  Why did the mariners hang the Albatross around the neck of the Ancient Mariner?

Or

Why does the poet say ‘instead of the cross’ the Albatross was hung around his neck?

Ans.   The sailors held the ancient Mariner responsible for their misery and suffering. They accused him of bringing them to disaster in the silent sea. They believed it to be due to the wanton killing of the Albatross by the ancient Mariner. So, by way of punishment they hung the dead decomposing Albatross around his neck.

 

WORKSHEET

 

  1. I) Short Answer Questions in about 30-40 words:

 

  1. How did the Ancient Mariner stop one of the wedding guests? What was his reaction?
  2. What happened when the Ancient Mariner‘s ship reached the equator?
  3. Why did the sailors hang the dead albatross round the neck of the mariner?
  4. Briefly describe how the ship was caught in the storm?
  5. How was the arrival of the albatross a good omen?
  6. How does the ancient mariner describe the land of mist and snow?
  7. What painful experience did the mariner undergo in the silent sea?
  8. What impression do you form of the ancient mariner from the poem?
  9. What consequences did the mariner have to face as a result of killing the albatross?

 

  1. II) Long Answer Questions in about 100-150 words:

 

  1. ‘Water’ water, everywhere…. Nor any drop to drink‘. When does the ancient mariner make this comment?
  2. Describe the ship‘s journey from harbour to the southern sea full of mist and snow.
  3. The ancient mariner‘s shipmates are a bunch of fickle minded sailors. Comment.
  4. ‘Punishment does catch up with the sinner although it may be delayed

sometimes’.

Comment on this statement with reference to the poem.

  1. Write a short note on the element of supernaturalism in the poem.

 

notes

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