The Uncomprehending Narrator in 'The Ancient Mariner'

G.A. Wilkes


In an article in Sydney Studies in English in 1982, G. L. Little revisited the question of the 'moral' of The Ancient Mariner, with the dissonant impressions given by the narrative and the gloss, and remarked 'Perhaps the Mariner himself understands least of all.' This note takes up the issue of the degree of that understanding. It is concerned with the poem as it appeared in 1798, at the threshold of Lyrical Ballads. The mariner belongs in the company of the Female Vagrant, the Mad Mother, the Convict and other examples of 'low and rustic life' who appear in that volume, and his functions as narrator are best understood in that context.

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