Coleridge’s Treatment of Supernatural in “The Ancient Mariner”

When Coleridge and Wordsworth published “Lyrical Ballads,” which laid the foundation stone of Romantic poetry, Coleridge states that he aimed to select remote, uncommon, or supernatural incidents in such a manner as to make them appear real.

This particular aim of Coleridge is manifested in the “Ancient Mariner,” which bases on supernatural elements. However, the total effect of the poem is realistic, and Coleridge believed that. “The Willing suspension of disbelief,” Coleridge means that the reader suspends his analytical power, and he is profaned to accept whatever is told in the narrative.

The Ancient Mariner contrasts several improbable incidents, but it is not a fantasy of disconnected events but a coherent story that appears credible to the reader.

Coleridge Introduces Horror in A Chain Reaction

The Mariner killed Albatross without giving us any specific reason. After killing the bird, several fantastic events followed one after another to suggest the severe nature of the Mariner’s crime. The sudden appearance of the mysterious skeleton ship, the specter- woman and her death mate, and the appearance of life in death, all come from the supernatural world to produce a sense of horror connected with the Mariner’s psychology.

However, Coleridge skillfully blended supernatural phenomena with natural events that the whole thing appears to be real. The images of horror are introduced to indicate the psychological condition and suffering of the Mariner.

Coleridge Blends Realism into Fantasy

The Mariner’s psychological condition presents the realistic aspect of the story. Coleridge produces a sense of horror not by the direct description but by employing suggestive symbols to portray the psychological condition of the Mariner.

The figure of Specter- woman and her death mate are eternal agents connected with the Mariner’s mind. The appearance of life in death conveys a sense of horror, and its subsequent effect would freeze a man’s blood. The image of the skeleton ship with death and life in death is taken from the supernatural world to show the effect of the crime on the Mariner’s mind. Another horror situation that Coleridge produced in the poem is the death of two hundred sailors who dropped down dead one by one cursing the Mariner for his hideous crime.

Coleridge aimed at making the supernatural conversing and human along with a human interest with a touch of reality. Coleridge exercises imagination realism in this poem. However strange the events may be, they relate to natural elements, and for this reason, they appear to be credible.

Once we have entered into this imaginary world, we do not feel that it is beyond our comprehension but respond to it with intensity and actual emotion. Besides the realistic treatments of the setting in the natural landscape background, Coleridge’s footage of characters appeals to our emotions.

Coleridge Intrigues Readers into The Characters and Their Fate

What touches us about the characters is the pain and suffering. Their agonies are universalized with basic human emotion. We feel that what happens to them might happen to anyone in similar circumstances. We readily respond to the misery and helpless plight of the persons involved in guilt and suffering.

Coleridge expects us to suppose the situations as real, and this is easy when situations belong to ordinary experiences. Nonetheless, when the supernatural takes control, Coleridge uses all his skill to achieve a realistic effect within the supernatural frame. The paradox nature of the Mariner’s voyage from England to the South Pacific, from the known to unknown, from the familiar to the strange world, keeps the reader spellbound. The reader is willing to accept everything that is happening in the strange world without questioning its validity. By the magical power of his art, Coleridge retains the reader’s interest till the last page.


The Ancient Mariner is much more than a fairy tale. The entire story of the Mariner’s crime, suffering, and punishment is visual through the supernatural agents. Coleridge has used supernatural symbols to show the magnitude of the Mariner’s crime and his subsequent punishment.

In conclusion, it is evident that “The Ancient Mariner” is an excellent poem in which Coleridge has achieved his desired effect with the harmonious blending of the natural and the supernatural.

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