Ozymandias Essay, Research Paper
This sonnet is written to express to the speaker that possessions don’t mean immortality – ironically, the king who seemed to think that his kingdom would remain under his statue’s egotistical gaze forever teaches us this through his epitaph. “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” becomes good advice, though in an opposite meaning than the king intended, for it comes to mean that despite all the power and might one acquires in the course of one’s life, material possessions will not last forever. In the end, the King’s “works” are nothing, and the lines inscribed upon his statue are a sermon to those who read it. The tone of “Ozymandias” is one of lamentation, a sorrow that a statue proclaiming Ozymandias as the greatest king the world has ever known is now reduced to rubble; and not just the physical aspect but the glory of the king is also long forgotten.
In Shelley’s “Ozymandias”,there are two speakers; the first speaker introduced the poem for the first line and then the second speaker carries the poem to realization. It is ironic that the words inscribed on the pedestal “Look on my works. . . and despair!” reflect the evidence of the next line, “Nothing beside remains,” that is, there is nothing left of the reign of the greatest king on earth.One immediate image is found in the second line, “trunkless legs.”. One good comparison may be when the author equates the passions of the statue’s frown, sneer, and wrinkled lip to the “lifeless things” remaining in the “desart.” Another is when Shelley compares the “Works” of Ozymandias with “Nothing beside remains.”
Ozymandias shows the reader that two things will mark the earth forever. First: the awesome power of mother nature is constant, everlasting and subject to no human works. Second: a mans actions are kept in the hearts of those he touches for eternity.
Nature’s commanding presence in the poem is expressed only twice,
“The lone and level sands stretch far away . ( L14)”
but in those two instances the reader knows that her cycles of bounty, this is symbolic of the time before Ozymandias’ fall continue regardless of the presence humans. The poem gives a certain finality to nature. It lends the earth an independent and invincible power. Even though the poem is set in a desert, we know that goods things are also found there. This resets the cycle of bounty and destruction for the good.
The second truth found in the poem’s text is comparable to the golden rule: do unto others as you would have done to you. We can only assume that Ozymandias ruled his kingdom with an iron fist and little mercy. The traveler tells the narrator that
” Half sunk, a shattered visage lies,
who’s frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
tell that its the sculptor well those passions read (L4-6)”
The strictly chosen words like “frown”, and “sneer of cold command” illustrate how the sculptor felt about the king. His actions, though made in ancient times, still are known and talked of. His deeds are carried by word of mouth to far away lands and used allegorically as tools to teach others of the consequences of poor human relations.
Ozymandias is effective in its fight against resistance to our stubborn modes of thought. It forces the reader to probe into their psyche and come out with new answers to these near rhetorical questions. The only limitations that the philosophical critique is subject to is the beliefs and morals of different readers are often as different as their fingerprints. These differences cause different responses and different conclusions. However, individuality is not completely a bad thing. It could very well be the one monumental thing that gives you immortality