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Describe the roles of the Wedding-Guest, the ancient Mariner and the sailors (other mariners) in the poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Why was the Wedding-Guest forced to listen to the old Mariner’s tale like a ‘three years’ child? Why did the ancient Mariner have to tell his tale to someone? Why did the Mariner feel guilt-ridden?

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The Wedding-Guest provides a sharp contrast to the ancient Mariner and the sailors. The old Mariner with a ‘long grey beard’, ‘glittering eyes’, and ‘skinny’ hands lives in a world which has no connection with the modern world or with the present times. He is tormented by a sense of guilt that is the result of his killing an innocent and auspicious bird, the albatross. The Wedding-Guest lives in the immediate present. He has to attend the wedding feast. He is a close relative of the bridegroom and has to be present at the wedding. He knows that all other guests have come and the ‘feast is set’. But he is helpless. The long bearded and glittering eyed ancient Mariner keeps him under his spell. He is forced to listen to the old Mariner’s tale like a ‘three years’ child’.

The guilt-ridden old Mariner has to tell his tale to someone. He is also helpless. He has committed a sin by killing the innocent and auspicious bird that brings a favourable wind for the ship and for them. He is under a curse.

The sailors or the other mariners are fickle-minded. They changed their moods, morals and stand quite often. First they curse the ancient Mariner for killing a bird that had brought a favourable wind for them. In the very next breath, they justify his killing of the albatross because it had brought mist and fog for them.

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