The term “discovery” is employed within many areas, such as of personal spirituality, psychological loneliness and religious morality, where the protagonist in question ascertains something previously unknown or unrecognized. The poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and several other texts studied, all embody the abovementioned fields of discovery, each in their own specific ways. Through the discovery of something new, a character can change not only for the better but also for the worse. However, before one can endure this alteration, there is a challenging journey that is supplemented with obstacles and hardships.
As a consequence of these difficult struggles the character is encouraged to reflect, and only then, can they instigate change. In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, through the use of visual imagery, poetic devices in language and a bizarre archaic form in structure and dialogue the composer is able to convey his views on discovery and change.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the tale of a grizzled old sailor who narrates a particularly eventful voyage from sea after he detains a young man that is on his way to a wedding.
At first, the wedding guest angrily demands that the man release him, to which the Mariner complies. But the young man is soon transfixed by the Mariner’s “glittering eye” and can do nothing but sit on a stone and listen to his mysterious story. The Mariner retells how on one of his expeditions he shot an Albatross, a bird that was a symbol of good luck to the sailors and the consequent ghastly punishments that he was forced to endure and still endures; he is forever compelled to pass from land to land telling his tale or else the heart within him burns.
Through the Mariner’s dialogue, Coleridge has offered a great deal of stunningly vivid imagery that enhances the rich and uniquely supernatural world that the audience becomes newly acquainted with. For instance in stanza 6 of Part 5, “The upper air burst into life/ And a hundred fire-flags sheen” the colourful imagery generates a dramatic illustration of the sails moving to and fro, enhancing the atmosphere of terror that the Mariner felt.
Also, in the poem, the use of dialogue plunges the reader suddenly into the role of the Mariner, hearing the voices around him rather than hearing them described, which is a technique is used to ensure that the poem is always intriguing to the reader.
In relation to structure, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is unique amongst other works from the Era of Romanticism. Coleridge’s intentional use of archaic language, (“Eftsoons his hand dropt he”) with the addition of scholarly notes printed in small type inside the margins, produces the impression that this “Rime” is a ballad of ancient times, reprinted with explanatory notes for a new audience. As proof that discovering something new doesn’t always change one’s circumstances for the better, but often it is quite the contrary, this antiquated structure emphasizes the dire circumstances of the Mariner’s punishment; signifying the extensive amount of time since the Mariner shot the Albatross and the moment during which he is forced to narrate and reflect on the events that changed his life, time and time again.
It is divided into 7 sections that are comprised of short ballad stanzas, usually 4 or 6 lines long, but occasionally, as many as 9 lines long. The meter is quite controlled; odd lines are generally tetrameter, while even lines are usually trimeter. The rhymes commonly alternate in an ABAB or ABABAB scheme, The firm control that Coleridge utilizes evokes the feeling that the Mariners dialogue has been scrupulously rehearsed and his words thought through carefully, establishing the suggestion that this is not the Mariner’s first recital, that he has already been travelling for a tremendously expansive amount of time telling his tale, since the actual event.
As a result of intently listening to the Mariner’s tale, the Wedding guest is finally declared to have become, “A sadder and wiser man”. He has encountered a personally spiritual discovery about the world that surrounds him. He hears the Mariner’s speech and finds out about compassion in life, punishment, the glory of God’s creatures and about the unpleasantness of being alone. In this instance, the Wedding Guest has changed not only for the better but also for the worse. He has become a wiser man, a man who has been informed of some vital advice that he will indeed make the most of in the future, which will ultimately change his life for the better, however he has also become a sadder man; a man who will now remember the Mariner’s tragic tale for the rest of his life. Although it is not stated, the Wedding Guest will also walk the Earth with a “burning heart”, until his dying day, reminiscing the melancholy story that he was once told, aware of this miserable fact drumming in the back of the young man’s mind; that this sailor will walk the Earth for eternity.
By killing the Albatross, the Mariner discovers that there are consequences to unholy acts in eyes of God, through punishment. This moral discovery that the Mariner encounters sheds light on his faith and brings him closer to God. The moral lesson that the Mariner learns is that “all creatures great and small” were created by God and should be loved, from the Albatross to the slimy snakes in the rotting ocean. The Mariner kills the albatross in bad faith, subjecting himself to the hostiliy of the forces that govern the universe. After earning his curse, the Mariner is able to obtain the favour of God. He regains his ability to pray, however only after realizing that the monstrous creatures around him are beautiful in God’s eyes and he should love them as he should have loved the Albatross. In this instance, the Mariner’s discovery has allowed him to change for the better, however only after having struggled with the natural elements and creatures that framed this uncanny, surreal world. Only after embarking on this arduous
journey is he able to contemplate his actions and realise that all of nature should be respected and loved equally.
In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner the mariner discovers the psychological agony that one can incur though a life of loneliness and isolation. After death and life-in-death pay a visit to the other sailors on the Mariner’s ship, he is left alone to suffer the burden of the curse all on his own. Through the use of repetition in 232-233 (“Alone, alone, all, all alone/ Alone on a wide wide sea”) Coleridge emphasizes the torture that the Mariner is experiencing because of his loneliness. By repeating the word “all” the reader realizes that the Mariner is absolutely petrified and stuttering whilst all alone on this “wide, wide” sea. This form of discovery is a particularly unpleasant one, and the Mariner’s circumstances are blatantly changed for the worse.
In the short story, “Absurd Ending” by Laura Freixas, the protagonist, Luisa, like the Wedding Guest, encounters a spiritual discovery. Luisa discovers that she is in fact a character from a novel, which leads her to a certain, “spritual blindness” that she bears after comprehending that she does not control her own destiny; she has been meekly allowing herself to be carried by the ups and downs in her life that her creator and author has written into the story of Lusia’s life.
Formal language and a lot of dramatic dialogue is used in the story. (“‘You say that the sky is always blue everywhere!’ The voice came from an indistinct and moving shape in the shadows. ‘Yes’ she shouted above the din, ‘except when it turns black, empty for ever and ever!'”) The use of gripping discourse between the two main characters (Luisa and her author) induces a tense atmosphere within the story that heightens as the reader learns more and more about Lusia’s life and the tragedy within it. However, before Luisa discovers the secret to the story of her life she claims that for years and years she had tried to find meaning and purpose to her life until one day the truth had all dawned upon her. Luisa’s defining establishment did provide her with an answer to her speculations about life, however it also lead her to realise that there was no aim to her future, because it was already all figured out and she was in no power to alter that, which was the reason why she went to a pay a visit to her author, begging him for “an extra 30 pages.”
“The Solitaire Mystery” is an insightful tale where the author, Jostein Gaarder tells the fantastical story of a magical pack of cards as a means of provoking the reader to discover the world from a philosophical point of view. In this novel, a character called Frode is introduced, whose pack of playing cards came to life (after he became stranded on an island), but whose minds became dulled by a drink called “Rainbow Fizz”. Frode lives on this island with only these 52 drowsy playing cards that wander the island oblivious to everything. When the cards realize that Frode was their creator, they rebel and bring him to his death. Similar to the way that the Ancient mariner did not appreciate or respect the Albatross, Frode did not appreciate the company of the cards until it was too late. Frode did not consider the cards to be of equal intelligence to him, he took them for granted and underestimated their abilities- he certainly did not think that they would one day punish him through murder!.
The language used in this novel is simple to understand, however this contrasts with the advanced level of concepts that Gaarder succeeds in imparting to his audience. Gaarder causes the reader to reflect on the world through this story of magic and mystery despite the fact that the events explained are so foreign to everyday life. He delivers questions such as “Who are you? Where do we come from? What would I do if I met my creator?” by various means in the novel.
In the movie, “Memento” the protagonist discovers the extreme effects of psychological loneliness, as does the Mariner after all the men on his ship drop dead. Leonard Shelby (main character) is an avenger, on a quest to find and kill the man who raped and murdered his wife, however this difficulty is compounded by the fact that he suffers from a rare, untreatable form of memory loss; he is unable to form new memories since he received a severe blow to the head.
Certain scenes in the movie are played in reverse order, because it is shown is if drawn straight from Shelby’s memory. There is no background knowledge about characters other than from Shelby’s own experience. In order to understand the movie, one must concentrate very hard as there is sometimes confusion over previous events. Sometimes Shelby experiences flashbacks which are difficult to distinguish between the real-time events. This technique enables the viewer to experience the world from Leorard Shelby’s point of view; a very obscure, lonely and confusing world.
In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and other texts discovery can be found within many different fields such as of personal spirituality, psychological loneliness and religious morality. As a result of discovery, a character can change not only for the better, but also for the worse. However, before one can experience change they must undergo a journey that inspires them to actually prompt this change. Through a vast array of techniques, the composer is able to convey this meaning to a wide audience.
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