The Theme of Guilt in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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Updated: Jun 29, 2022
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Throughout the movie-novel, “Shutter Island”, and the poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, the main characters both go through the unsolvable agonizing theme of guilt. Teddy Daniels also known as Andrew Laeddis blames himself for killing his wife and children, and creates his own world in a sense to help cope with his guilty feelings. The Mariner also blames himself for killing the albatross in which he had no meaning towards, he just killed the albatross for no particular reason.

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The two of them go through the same feeling of guilt as they blame themselves throughout their troubles. None of them seek help as they are too far trapped in their own set reality that makes them feel normal.

In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the Mariner goes through the unthinkable when he commits a horrid sin that he has to face the consequences for. The Mariner is viewed as a sinner who has to suffer along with his sailors because of what the Mariner did. The sailors on board of the Mariner’s ship vaguely represent sinners as well who are associated with one another in committing crimes. After killing the albatross, it’s spirituality effects have a role in the killing of the Mariners sailors. The Mariner states that, “Instead of the cross, the Albatross / About my neck was hung, ( Coleridge part 2 line 59-60).” Clearly the Mariner is forced to wear the albatross carcass as a symbol of guilt. His thoughts and actions are being controlled by some external force. Seeing his own crew die makes him feel guilty. It has a reeling effect on the Mariner. Something that he would never get over. When he had a feeling of hatred towards the immaculate albatross that made him commit a sin that changed the journey for him and his crew. It made all of their lives miserable and beyond repair. Without a doubt the readers point of view it is merely impossible to understand due to the fact that words can rarely if not ever create the feelings you experience in real life. We are all human, and we have our own ways of expressing emotions, and in the Mariners way, he has too much guilt to deal with which makes his life much harder to go by. When he retells his tall tale, his heart races. The effects of guilt are too much for people to experience, it can make them do things they normally don’t do.

Guilt plays a major role in the movie/book, “Shutter Island”. The main reason that Andrew Laeddis has created his own reality for himself is because he cannot live a normal life with the guilt that he feels for killing his own wife and children. It is simply too much for him to handle. He cannot overcome it. Laeddis did not get the help for his wife as she needed it the most because she drowned their children. Therefore he feels that it is completely his fault. He refuses to accept the fact that the event or even his children ever happened. The theme of guilt in Shutter Island also goes with the theme of trauma. Laeddis’ guilt is represented with flashbacks of his wife and children. While it is not clear that the little girl in the beginning is his daughter, it is later revealed in the end, and she blames him for not saving her when her mom drowned her and the other kids. All of Andrew Laeddis’ problems are due to the effect guilt has on him. It is too overwhelming and makes him hallucinate and dream of things that aren’t there ect. His guilt creates a monster. For example a doctor in the movie stated that, “Which would be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man.” This quotes from the movie states that Laeddis isn’t willing to accept the true reality which is him as Andrew Laedis and not Teddy Daniels. He doesn’t want to accept the fact that he is guilty for every sinful action he has taken in the past. From excessive drinking to being in domestic disputes with his wife to blaming himself for his family’s deaths, the guilt once again becomes too much. In a lot of ways, guilt is the feeling that is very overwhelming for many people. If unattended to, guilt festers, making one look and feel more and more worse overtime. Guilt seeks acceptance and action. The latter may be sufficient to make that guilty feeling demenish. However, when that’s not enough, it might take time to let the guilt transform into the true feeling it’s trying to mask. Therefore in Andrews case, he’s not wanting to accept the true feeling the guilt has.

In conclusion, the main characters in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Shutter Island both go through the theme of guilt. There are many forms of guilt however and they both suffer from the consequences they get from being guilty. Guilt makes one feel shamed and makes them commit bad actions that can affect themselves and or others around them. Guilt clearly affects the Mariner as his actions made him and his crew suffer and also Andrew Laeddis because he doesn’t accept the true reality and only wants to accept a made up reality without his wife and kids in the picture. Every individual in the world deals with guilt in many different shapes and forms.

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The Theme Of Guilt In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. (2022, Jun 29). Retrieved from