Coleridge's Uncertain Agony

SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Volume 49, Number 4, pp. 807-839 .

 By Harry White

Coleridge realized that much of the guilt from which he suffered was largely—if not entirely—a symptom of depression; but he found the possibility that feelings of guilt might be reducible to symptoms of mental disease even more disturbing than the depression that troubled him, since it tended to cast doubt on his faith that guilt and remorse were valid indicators of sinfulness. While Coleridge understood that the ultimate reasons for guilt are not to be found in any particular acts we commit, he steadfastly resisted the belief that moral condemnation could not be applied to those who suffered from mental disease. And this very quandary regarding the nature and source of guilt lies at the heart of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, his greatest poem: a mariner invents a tale of crime, guilt, and punishment in an attempt to validate his chronic feelings of remorse so as to project a sense of moral order onto the otherwise senselessly traumatic events he experienced at sea.

Read the article



(Something interesting I found)Posted: Monday, November 23, 2009 by cait
Filed under:
Join the Network    
Users are able to post news & publications, maintain a profile, and participate in discussion forums related to research on virtues.