Pride and Its Unswerving Path Towards Ruin

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“Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” This verse from the book of Proverbs seems to fit Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” perfectly, as this poem explores the depth of pride and the inevitable deterioration of all things in their time, no matter how great they once were. Throughout the course of his poem, Shelley displays the pride of the ruler Ozymandias, as well as his transience and self-proclaimed greatness. Pride and its path towards destruction are in hindsight, often seen in great and powerful rulers. Ozymandias is no exception, for he displays an amazing amount of vanity and overconfidence in his famous pronouncement in which Ozymandias states, "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" The “King of Kings”, Ozymandias, mentioned in the poem was (unbeknownst to Shelley at the time he was writing the poem) none other than Ramesses II, Ozymandias being the Greek form of his name. Ramesses II was a famous and powerful ruler in Egypt from 1279-1213 BC and is possibly the famous Pharaoh mentioned in the book of Exodus in the Bible. The understanding of who Ozymandias truly was grants valuable insight into the claims he made. Ramesses II did indeed build many statues of himself, as well as many grand and famous temples and also went on and was victorious in many military campaigns during his life. Such factors must have given him an unrealistic and overly arrogant view of his own competence and importance. Despite the prominence and majesty Ozymandias amassed during his lifetime, Shelley makes the following point in his poem quite poignantly that all shall, with the passing of enough time, come to naught. This is certainly true in the case of Ozymandias, for though he held sway over considerable expanses of land and had many structures commissioned for himself; none yet remain aside from a crumbling monolith, still bleating his importance in spite of its obvious solidarity. Though it...
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