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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Critical Analysis of Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Critical Analysis of Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias is Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet metered iambic pentameter. Ozymandias is referred to the ancient Egyptian King Rameses II, who was cited as the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt. Shelley wrote the poem after he heard the news of the discovery of ancient ruins belonged to the once great civilization. The poet expresses the short-lived power of a man and nature prevailing over humans.

The beginning of the poem tells of the stranger visiting an antique land that referred to as Egypt. The desert and the sand describe the setting of the country. The traveler tells the unearthing of a pair of legs of stone standing in the desert. It indicates that the sculpture has been destroyed due to the harsh environment for a long time, the body is missing, and the face of Ozymandias lays half-buried in the sand. The “shattered visage” of the king indicates of his confounded power. The “land” and “sand” states the perennial power of nature compared to Ozymandias’ supremacy.

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The visage describes Ozymandias’ true character: the “frown”, “wrinkled lip” and the “sneer of cold command” tells of his cruelty, mercilessness and contempt for his people. The sculptor, instead of praising the king, is mocking the man, even though he perfectly molded the king’s expression. The cruel character of the king lives on even after he died; his subjects had reduced to no more than a thing because of his hostile treatment to them. “The hand that mocked them” tells his disdain to serve his subjects; “heart that fed” indicates that he brings terror and dread to his people.

The pedestal which read:

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Ozymandias strived for political glory and even challenged the gods to overthrow his power. His pride and thirst for glory brings him nothing. His monument stands in the vast desert, “lone and level” shows the emptiness of the land.

The poet wrote incomplete ideas that leave the reader hanging on to what the traveler is talking about. The ironic tone of the poem mocks the king’s greatness turning into dumps. The major theme of the poem is the pride followed by a downfall.


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