Gustav Dore's Illustrations for
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


Below are links to several of the illustrations we viewed in class. You may write extra credit or exam essays about the illustration(s) of your choice. How do aspects of the drawings reflect various themes and features of the poem?

I've tried to preserve the quality of the illustrations; some will download quickly, but others may take up to a minute with a 28.8K modem, 30 seconds with a 56K. Please be patient!


The Mariner Stops the Wedding Guest
Lines 1-16: This illustration depicts the opening of the frame narrative.

Hear the Mariner's Tale
Lines 17-20: The Wedding Guest hears the Mariner begin his tale.

Wedding Celebration
Lines 33-40: The bride and groom arrive for the wedding banquet. Compare the event and setting of this scene from the frame narrative with the illustration "The Mariner's Isolation" from the central narrative of the Mariner's voyage. What is the thematic and structural significance of the frame narrative in relation to the central narrative?

Hope of Rescue
Lines 55-66: When their ship is caught in the ice at the South Pole, the sailors hail the arrival of the albatross as a good omen signifying their approaching freedom. How does this drawing illustrate the tension the poem creates between the themes of isolation and communion?

The Mariner's Isolation
Lines 79-96: This illustration depicts the Mariner's attitude after killing the albatross. Compare and contrast the drawing with the Wedding Celebration drawing from the frame narrative.

Lines 171-202: As the ghost ship carrying Death and his mate, Life-In-Death, approaches, the two specters play a game for possession of the sailors' lives. Death wins the Mariner's shipmates, but Life-In-Death wins the Mariner.

While his companions drop dead around him, the Mariner remains alive, wearing the albatross around his neck as a symbol of his guilt. Although he is surrounded, he remains alone.

Redeeming Spirits
Lines 484-513: Realizing he is not truly alone, the Mariner sees the sea creatures around him and "blesses them unawares." The act of love causes the albatross to drop from his neck, and angelic spirits approach to begin his redemption. Animating the corpses of the crew, the spirits steer the ship back to the Mariner's home. Compare these supernatural creatures with the spectres of Death and Life-In-Death. How do the poem's supernatural beings reflect opposing forces in the Mariner's own soul?

Lines 582-590: The Mariner reveals that his on-going penance involves repeating his tale to selected listeners. In this illustration, the Mariner is accosting a man to whom he will tell his story. Why does the Mariner's tale bring horror as well as wisdom to his listeners? What features of the illustration suggest that the Mariner's story is one of both terror and redemption?