Pause and effect. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. These are both principals which are universally accepted by the world in which we live. They have been decried in novels through out time. Samuel Taylor Coolridge’s “The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein deal with the themes of accountability, our actions and how we learn from them. Both Coolridge and Shelly attempt to explain the importance and the responsibility that occurs during the decision making process.
Frankenstein and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” also deal with isolation and the lesson that each character learns from their ordeal. In his poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” Samuel Taylor Coolridge relates a tale of a man punished for killing a bird, an albatross. This single transgression unleashes a myriad of unfortunate occurrences including the stranding of the entire crew and the death of everyone except for the ancient Mariner. The Mariner is held acccountable for his actions. He slew the bird “That made the breeze to blow” (line 82), and was then responsible for the great evil that followed it.
Coolridge at first lets the reader think that the bird did not have anything to do with their good fortune at sea because the very next day “The glorious Sun uprist; / Then all averred, (the mariner) had killed the bird / That brought the fog and mist” (lines 98-100). This reprieve however is short lived as the ship becomes stuck motionless and everyone dies except the Ancient Mariner. Coolridge’s purpose in the narrative is to impress upon his readers the importance of decision making. Even the smallest decision may have an unimaginable effect. Coolridge also approaches the topic of loneliness.
Alone, stranded, and without hope, the Ancient Mariner “could not die” (line 262). The Mariner wanted out of his situation and he saw the only way as death. Yet loneliness and isolation prove to be the Mariners savior. While watching the moon, stars, and water snakes, the Mariner realizes that God’s creations were to be treasured. “A spring of love gushed from my heart, / And I blessed them unaware; / Sure my kind saint took pity on me, / And I blessed them unaware” (lines 284-287). From the his isolation, the Ancient Mariner learned the valuable lesson of appreciation and with that, his curse was broken.
Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein closely mirrors “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and even mentions it within its cover. Victor is the main victim of choice in the novel. Victor had educated himself, and created his monster. He spent a lot of time studying, and he needed to, for such an intense and groundbreaking project. Victor shows evidence of his will to learn by saying, “There only remained a resolution to return to my ancient studies and to devote myself to a science for which I believed myself to possess a natural talent. ” (pg. 47).
He also mentioned, “My cheek had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement. ” (pg. 53). Victor was initially obsessed at the creation of the monster. Spending all day and night on his toils, he seemed to think of nothing else. He neglected his family and his friends. Yet when Victor finally creates his monster, he finds him thoroughly repulsive and abandons his not so small “child. ” This was the turning point, the choice that Victor made. Because Victor abandoned his monster he was responsible for all the deaths of his friends. Victor also learns from isolation.