Samuel Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a poem in which an "ancient mariner" accosts one of three men on their way to a wedding, and recounts a tale of his voyage to him. In the tale, the mariner kills an albatross and, by this crime, is subject to a slew of punishments which come in the form of many supernatural phenomena. Upon witnessing such phenomena, the mariner comes away from the experience with a newly-found sense of appreciation for nature. At face value, the mariner's story seems like utter nonsense, but upon close reading, it becomes apparent that through the mariner's lengthy exposition, Coleridge intends to communicate a certain moral outlook on life in general, as well as his show his concern for slavery, through the use of imagery, descriptions of the supernatural, and references to God.
One important aspect of this poem to consider before analyzing its deeper contents is its narrative structure. There are essentially three characters: an omnipresent narrator, the wedding guest, and the ancient mariner. The poem starts off in the third-person perspective of a narrator who tells of how the mariner and the wedding guest first meet, then the speaker is the mariner as he tells his story, and finally, the speaker is then the omnipresent narrator again. The significance of this is that the narrator can be thought of as Coleridge, as he makes the prescriptive claim the wedding guest became "A sadder and a wiser man" (stanza 143). What's also significant is how this quote supports how the mariner could be thought of as Coleridge's echo in that he – at least to a certain extent – reflects Coleridge's moral attitudes.
Likewise, to understand Coleridge's moral outlook, one must pay close attention to the way he describes events through the voice of the mariner. Consider both the gothic and romantic language he uses to describe what occurs throughout the entire poem.