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OZYMANDIAS

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OZYMANDIAS

1. What kind of man was the Pharaoh Ozymandias, do you think? Quote from the poem to substantiate your answer.
2. The poet takes great care to describe, in lines 4 and 5, the ‘passions’ of Ozymandias that are ‘stamped on these lifeless things’ (line 7). What is the effect of the juxtaposition of ‘passions’ and ‘lifeless’? What is Shelley suggesting about human ambition?
3. The ‘hand’ and the ‘heart’ (line 8) are, of course, the hand and heart of the sculptor, not Ozymandias. Discuss the irony in this fact, referring particularly to lines 10 and 11.
4. An atmosphere of degeneration and despair is created in the poem. How does the poet achieve this? Quote from the poem to substantiate your answer.
5. The poet makes use of the poetic device of alliteration in the last two lines. Identify the words that make up this figure of speech and comment on the effect this device creates here.

In the poem ‘Ozymandias’, the poet in line 1 says the traveller was from an antique land. An antique is defined as “A collectable object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its age and quality” (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/antique). A statue that has become an antique could imply that the person was wealthy and powerful. Statues are usually of people with a high social standing due to being wealthy or powerful. I think Pharaoh Ozymandias was a powerful and wealthy person. The sculptor kept the frown (line 4) which might suggest that it was a common feature for the Pharaoh; he was an unfriendly and ruthless ruler with dictatorial tendencies. Ozymandias, in line 10, refers to himself as the King of Kings, which suggests he was a vain person who believed no one could conquer him or achieve more than he had. His words suggest a person who was arrogant and boastful. The same words (line 10 and 11) could portray a warrior who is confident of his might and takes pride in his achievements. The Pharaoh could have been a person with a high self-esteem.

A passion is a strong feeling or emotion, portraying a time when Ozymandias was alive and was a man of mighty actions. Lifeless indicate a lack of animation, excitement or activity. The same person who had the capabilities of demonstrating strong emotions now stands without any activity. A distinct contrast is shown by the face, looked at on its own, displaying power but right next to it a pair of legs without a body. The poet seems to suggest that humans and their ambitions are mortal. Ozymandias was a great king who at one time people could have looked at his statue and marvelled but the same statue now displays a pathetic situation with the face partially buried in sand. This suggests that all ambitions, no matter how great, come to an end. When humans are in positions of authority they normally feel invincible and forget about the brevity of life but the poem warns them that nothing lasts forever. The mighty rule of Ozymandias came to an end and therefore for all humans, after death there is nothing one can do to progress their ambition – death is the ultimate end of human ambition.

The word ‘mocked’ in line 8, “The hand that mocked them...”, appears to mean to copy or mimic as in the sculptor creating the statue of Ozymandias. In lines 10 and 11, the state of the statue is a mockery of the words that appear on the pedestal. The irony is that the broken down statue brings out the meaning of mocked as in ridicule or treat with contempt. Ozymandias could have got a sculptor to create a statue that depicted the power of a great man, an immortal monument, but it now lies wasted in a desert. The inscription, “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”, on the statue is ironic considering that the head of the statue is partially buried in the sand and the body is missing. All around the statue there is no sign of a powerful kingdom that would make mighty people tremble. Ozymandias is history, his kingdom and all his people are gone leaving behind a statue broken down by natural elements.

The poet creates an atmosphere of degeneration and despair throughout the poem. He evokes the reality that nothing is immortal. In line 2, the statue is great in size but has degenerated to not having a body. In line 4, the face of the statue of a once powerful man now lies in ruins, half-buried in sand. The head that confidently appeared above a majestic boy is now on the ground. In line 7, the lifeless feet have no more life and no hope of any activity. In line 11, Ozymandias had the sculptor inscribe the words, “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”. It appears that when Ozymandias was alive he caused despair and despondence but after his death his statue has degenerated and lies in a state of despair. In line 12, around the statue of the great Ozymandias there is no evidence of his great works, only sand stretching for a long distance. The state of the statue of a great man like Ozymandias depicts an atmosphere of hopelessness and decay.

The poem describes the remains of the statue and the majestic empire of Pharaoh Ozymandias. In the last two lines, the poet uses alliteration to emphasize the decay that has befallen the once mighty king and show how nothing lasts forever. The words, “boundless and bare”, “lone and level” and “sands stretch” all depict how over time there is no evidence of the great works of Ozymandias. The prodigious destruction has no limit and is there for all to see. This is unlike the usual life of the powerful – there are no human guards or high walls for protection. There are no signs of majesty around the statue but flat sands that covers a large area and are isolated from other things. During his reign, Ozymandias was likely to have had people and servants around him and his presence oozed authority but now his statue lie broken in sand and his kingdom forgotten.

BIBLIOGRAPHY http://www.enotes.com (accessed 29 August 2014)

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/antique (accessed 25 August 2014)

http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary (accessed 29 August 2014)

Bibliography: http://www.enotes.com (accessed 29 August 2014) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/antique (accessed 25 August 2014) http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary (accessed 29 August 2014)

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