How the Poem Ozymandias Highlights the Fundamental Issue in the Film Watchmen
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Percy Shelley, “Ozymandias”
This is a profound statement ascribed to one of the most powerful pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Yet, as Percy Shelly writes, the “works,” due to the sands of time, have vanished – “of that colossal wreck… the long and level sands stretch far away” (13-14). At his zenith, Ozymandias believed his empire was timeless and would inspire “despair” in all those who labored to match his accomplishments. But the monuments, his self-praising idols, and, in sum, his empire have all but eroded away. In such a way, Ozymandias emphasizes the frailty of mankind in the thread of measureless time. It’s not happenstance that one of the main characters in the movie Watchmen refers to himself as Ozymandias. Adrian Alexander Viedt,…show more content… Secondly, the poem has an unusual rhyme scheme. Most sonnets are divided into three quatrains of alternating rhyme with a closing couplet. These sonnets have the normal “ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG” structure. The poem Ozymandias, however, has a strange rhyme scheme of the “ABABACDCEDEFEF” format. Instead of the poem ending with a concluding couplet, the reader gets another EF group. The apparent and perhaps purposeful disorganization of the poem possibly alludes to the confusing conflict between the world’s superpowers of the Eighties in Watchman. The failure of both the Soviet Union and the United States to preserve their military and economic prowess from the Cold War represents how Ozymandias in the poem was unable to create an eternal Egyptian empire. Hence, the moral poem helps the reader understand that in the film Watchman, the struggle for power is to of no avail.
The detached tone of the poem resembles the divided relationship between the heroes and the rest of humanity in Watchmen. The manner in which the poet distances himself from his sonnet is related to how the heroes in the film separated themselves from society. The story of what remains of Ozymandias is not from the perspective of the author but rather from some unnamed traveler. The unrelated narrator augments a deeper level of obscurity of Ozymandias to the reader. Shelley’s framework of the sonnet, depersonalizing the story and adds ambiguity to the