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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Graduate Studies


The Rime of the Ancient Mariner1 is essentially a poem of survival through transformation, one which, according to William Walsh, 'has to do equally with man's capacity for failure and with that which makes available to him resources for recovery."2 It is also. as Richard Haven recognizes, "the record of the evolution of self." 3 Even more specifically, however, The Ancient Mariner is s tale which reveals key elements of Carl Jung's thought: the process of individuation, the nature of shadow and anima forces, the power of dreams and symbolism.

Given the myriad and divergent interpretations of the poem--I heartily agree with C.M. Bowra that "there" is no final or single approach" 4 to Coleridge's masterpiece--my purpose must be explorative, suggestive. A Jungian perspective fairly encourages an exploratory approach, as Carl Kepper contends: The very heart of the applicability of Jung to the problem of symbolism is that he requires of us not that we explain (in the sense of explaining away, reducing to something more familiar) the symbol but that we explore it, not that we we remove. the mystery but that we seek to know it in all the mysteriousness it presents.5 In this searching, delving spirit, then, I will discuss the way the Mariner's--and to a lesser extent, the Wedding-Guest's--experiences represent fundamental aspects of the individuation process, which Jung defines as " ' coming to selfhood' or 'self-realization.' " 6 I will concentrate on the roles of the shadow and anima, respectively, vital and necessary constructs of this process. In these sections and throughout the essay, I will emphasize the essential position both Coleridge and Jung attribute to the law of opposites and closely related rebirth motif.

Finally, I will explore the ways dreams, color, and bird imagery are symbolic and develop transformation or individuation to reflect the Mariner's degree of awakening. Not only will the complementary of opposites be discussed in this context, but wat Coleridge terms "the principle of unity in multeity"10 --what mythologist Joseph Campbell calls "unity in multiplicity"11 --and its relation to individuation will be considered. The focus throughout this essay will be on that transformational energy which promotes individuation and rebirth: "The study of the symbols of transformation," explains Violet S. de Laszlo, . . . centers upon the basic demand which is imposed upon every individual, that it, the urge as well as the necessity to become self-conscious of himself. . . . For Jung, the path towards this awareness is identical with the process of individuation. Insofar as the transformation results in a new and deeper awareness, it is experienced as a rebirth. . . .12