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The Mariner and Responsibility


            In Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, intellectualization and repression go hand in hand throughout the poem. Repression, the mind's essential strategy for hiding desires and fears, and intellectualization, a strategy of avoiding uncomfortable emotions by rationalizing them, analyzing them, and discussing them relentlessly (Lynn, 175-176), relate significantly to each other. All three of these contribute to the "realm of the hidden and directly unknowable" interior thoughts and feelings of the mariner (Lynn, 173). They create a great amount of originality and ingenuity on the interpreter's part, in depicting the mariner and his motivations. In combining repression, intellectualization, and projection, the interpreter is able to construct an explanation of the significance and concealed meaning of a character(s).
             The mariner intellectualizes and represses the reality that he was wrong in killing the Albatross. He cannot face the reality of his actions, nor accept the responsibility that comes along with them. Thus, through rationalization and avoidance, the mariner divorces himself from responsibility; he enables himself to live in what he believes to be the truth.
             Initially, the mariner reveals intellectualization characteristics when his ship encounters a storm. He notices that the Albatross has been following the ship ever since the storm began and blames the bad weather on the bird. So instead of just feeling and reacting to the storm, he rationalizes and analyzes it as the bird's fault, thus placing responsibility on the Albatross for the horrible weather. Therefore as a result he kills the bird with his cross bow. He comments on their disapproving looks by saying, "And I had done an hellish thing, / And it would work "em woe: / For all averred, I had killed the bird / That made the breeze to blow. / Ah wretch! Said they, the bird to slay, / That made the breeze to blow!" (Coleridge, 35).


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