Hello Susan! I'm back again, and twice in one day! (It helps that I'm urged by the TGS challenge currently going on).
I love Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." LOVE it. It was one of my favorites way back in high school and still holds a special place in my heart. I, too, think it is interesting to compare the story of the Mariner and Dumbledore. If you think about Coleridge, his beliefs, and much of his poetry, imagination played a very large role. If I'm not mistaken, he believed that a good imagination was a way to transcend awful/terrible/unpleasant circumstances and situations. I don't know if this was intentional on your part, but I see that with Albus here. He imagines a kiss from Gellert, he has a dream - it's all very symbolic and allegorical - particularly when he mentions the dream, it seems that he abandons his surroundings momentarily and enters this temporary, imaginative space. Furthermore, the poem is about violating nature, and by extension, so is the death of Ariana. Although we all die and that is nature itself, it can be argued that murder violates the laws of nature.
I like that you mirrored the allusion of the Albatross. Like the mariner, the Albatross/Ariana is the defining symbol of his "mistake" - the burden of his sin.
In general, it's all very intriguing and allegorically driven. I'm actually very jealous at the mastery of this piece. It straddles the line of literary - I'd say it's on the side of literary. It's a English nerd's dream. Very splendidly done, Susan! I enjoyed it immensely and can't wait to read your response! (Sorry if I went a bit literary analysis on this!)
Author's Response: Twice in one day definitely is a treat! Thank you for stopping by, Shelby!
It is one of the greatest poems around (despite what Wordsworth will say about it), and while I can't remember how I connected it to Dumbledore's story, there is an interesting parallel to be found between the old mariner who is forced to tell his story over and over again, and Dumbledore, who lives for years, crumbling at the edges because he refuses to tell the story. Instead it's told for him in Rita Skeeter's biography. In a way, Dumbledore becomes like Ariana, the guilt eating away at him until it eventually explodes and he instigates his own death - it becomes the only way of redeeming himself.
There is a dream-like quality to this story that relates well to Coleridge and his way of using dreams to enhance his work - "Kubla Kahn" is the best example. I'm thinking over how much of the story has to do with the imagination, though. The way that Dumbledore is able to recreate his memories through allusions to poetry and myth - as well as his ability to dream of what could have been with Gellert - demonstrate the power of his imagination. But they only partially disguise the reality of the situation. He tries to manipulate himself into seeing it as a dream, but all that he's left with in the end is an affirmation of his guilt - the one thing he wants to avoid.
The death of the albatross is the great violation of nature that brings destruction on the mariner and his ship. It's important that, in Dumbledore's case, the act of murder - particularly of one's sibling (which in turn alludes to Cain and Abel and that other great violation of nature, fratricide) - also brings the curse down on innocents. Both Ariana and Aberforth are destroyed by Dumbledore's betrayal (it doesn't even have to be murder - just because he claims responsibility doesn't actually mean that he did it), just like the mariner's shipmates.
It's far more allegorical than I meant it to be. But that's not a bad thing at all. It's fantastic how much you were able to draw out of the story - it's been a joy to read through your review and see how well this interpretation works. I love having literary analyses done on my stories - it never ceases to amaze me how much a story can contain that the author hasn't consciously included.
Thank you again for your wonderful review! ^_^