Ozymandias: The Ephemeral Emperor Essay

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In Percy Shelley’s poem, “Ozymandias,” the apparently grand, self-claimed king of kings proves to be nothing more than an arrogant pile of rubble, buried deep within a desert wasteland. In this classic piece of poetry, Shelley masterfully displays the temporary and insignificant status of mankind, and proves that the true “king of kings” is none other than Time. Shelley does this by commanding the use of irony, imagery, symbolism and using a unique structure. Percy Bysshe Shelley was born in Field Place, England, in 1792. He was the first born of seven children meaning he was the heir to a large estate and even a seat in parliament. After attending Eton College, he enrolled to Oxford, where he was accepted and attended. However, …show more content…

In 1822, before Percy Bysshe Shelley even witnessed 30 birthdays, he drowned during a fierce storm in an attempt to sail to Italy (Curran Everret.) “Ozymandias” starts rather simply and straightforward. The beginning serves mainly to introduce the setting of the poem. Shelley begins by identifying the situation. A traveler shows the speaker a crumbled statue of a once great ruler. After the introduction, the poem quick shifts from a mainly descriptive tone, to a very ironic and almost silently sarcastic one. Shelley uses plenty of imagery to describe the statue and the landscape around it, in order to paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. We envision the dreary desert, which allows the reader to experience the same “boundless and bare” (Line 13) desolation that the speaker witnesses. Shelley doesn’t spare an ounce of detail describing the fallen pharaoh. This is key component that is used to ironically juxtapose the grand statue’s great claim with the barren wasteland and his shattered remnants. The arrogance that is displayed here is a symbol of the arrogance of all mankind. The mix of the “lone and level sands” (line 14) and the “colossal wreck” (Line 13) symbolize how temporary mankind’s achievements are, and how unscathed and uninfluenced the earth ultimately remains from mankind’s mark. Percy also uses plenty of alliteration, such as “lone and level sands stretch” (line 14) to draw attention to particularly important phrases. These

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