ozymandias a close reading
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Percy Shelley’s sonnet “Ozymandias” (1818) is, in many ways, an outlier in the oeuvre: it is short, sticking with the 14 line duration of most classic sonnets, the precise dialect, filled with concrete floor nouns and active verbs, contrasts up against the circuitous, abstract language of “O Universe! O Existence! O Period! ” (1824), and, many saliently, it does not seek to radicalize or surprise, like the “The Necessity of Atheism” (1811) and also the Cenci, his 1819 cabinet drama about incest and murder. Shelley’s often tenace, politically-charged design makes “Ozymandias” seem tame in comparison to the majority of his additional poems. Nevertheless, a close examining of the sonnet reveals their political and theological cardiovascular system. Shelley’s key beliefs—like the importance of atheism, the fugacity of man-made societal structures, as well as the unpreventable conviction of oblivion—thematically buttress the inspiration of “Ozymandias. ” With uncharacteristic subtlety and t�nung, Shelley uses the poem’s eponymous sculpture to evidence the ephemerality of electricity and civilization as a whole.
Structurally, “Ozymandias” will not adhere to 1 specific kind, although it really does contain elements of both the Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnet. This operates in a loose iambic pentameter, jointly line consisting of ten syllables, except for the first and tenth, which have eleven. Lines three and twelve, in the mean time, open with trochees, neglecting the idea that a sonnet need to solely incorporate iambs. The rhyme structure, too, is definitely abnormal, contouring to simply no historically precedented pattern. Shelley’s frequent make use of enjambment even more obfuscates the rhymes besides making them fewer pronounced. Additionally , “Ozymandias” is definitely not damaged into a great octave and a sestet. Instead, it is presented in one block of cohesive textual content. As a result, the poem contains a tight, prose-like quality to it, studying smoothly and quickly. Shelley’s disregard to get conventional varieties reinforces the poem’s styles. He will not consider the Petrarchan or Shakespearean sonnet an undead form, just like Ozymandias’s empire cannot probably stand permanently.
The sonnet’s litheness leaves no room for abstractions. Accordingly, Shelley’s language is definitely precise and concrete, making the poem dense with specific imagery. Lines two and three—”‘two vast and trunkless lower limbs of stone/Stand in the desart'”—situate the reader geographically and establish the dilapidated state of Ozymandias’s figurine. The two lines that quickly follow identify the statue’s partially covered, protected head, which can be “Half sunk” in the fine sand. Ozymandias’s “frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command” is the initially instance of Shelley sowing dramatic paradox into the composition: Ozymandias’s cosmetic features will be frozen in a menacing appearance of self-confidence and electricity, yet his kingdom provides long since crumbled, and his statue is usually not even whole anymore. Shelley adds a subtle evaluate on Christianity to this disagreement in line five by having Ozymandias declare himself the “King of Nobleman, ” a moniker frequently assigned to Jesus. This kind of conspicuously crammed word decision further reinforces the overarching project of “Ozymandias”: no one is undead, and no world or develop can stand forever.
Shelley is not merely content to display the intrinsically fleeting character of power, he as well wants to highlight the hubris of individuals who believe they will defy this kind of inevitability. He accomplishes this through an evident use of paradox: the “colossal Wreck” from the deserted sculpture declares, “My name is definitely Ozymandias, Ruler of Kings, /Look in the Works, en Mighty, and despair! inches The irony, of course , lies in the simple fact that the sculpture is now ornamented only simply by nothing but “lone and level sands. inch Going additional, Shelley implies that the sculptor had subversive intentions when carving the “sneer of cold command, ” realizing that the overstated expression would speak to Ozymandias’s misplaced take great pride in, instead of his all-encompassing electrical power. Shelley’s use of the word “mocked” when describing the sculptor’s technique features as a dual entendre: “mocked, ” in this context, means both to repeat and to deride. While Ozymandias saw his statue since an imposing manifestation of his electricity, the sculptor saw it as an example of his subject’s overwhelming hubris. This hubris is most obvious in the pedestal’s inscription in line ten and eleven, which works on two levels: when the statue was erected, it absolutely was ostensibly component to a visible kingdom, producing the exergue read being a boast, an assertion that Ozymandias’s empire is unsurpassably vast and majestic, when the statue’s current state can be taken into account, nevertheless, the exergue reads similar to a warning, a announcement that however, mightiest kingdoms will ultimately disintegrate.
The conceit in the poem—that the speaker “met a tourist from old fashioned land” whom described the “shattered” figurine of Ozymandias—conceptually evidences Shelley’s project: the speaker hears about the statue old, which means the reader receives the information thirdhand, opening the possibility that the main points may have been altered in the tranny process, as is often the case with orally conveyed stories. The truth is, the actual wording on the statues reads, “I am Ozymandias, king of kings, anybody wishes to be aware of what I was and where I rest, let him go beyond me in a few of my personal exploits. inches Admittedly, Shelley likely increased the wording so it could more easily suit the colocar of the composition, but it does not trivialize the simple fact that Ozymandias’s authoritative words—which were intentionally chosen to exhibit his power—appear paraphrased in your body of the poem. This makes his declaration mare like a distorted indicate than a resounding assertion of power, undermining his intended message. Similarly, and for a similar reason, it is significant that the composition is called “Ozymandias”—and that the sculpture, and the chief it is portraying, is referred to as Ozymandias—because it is a Ancient greek transliteration in the name Ramses II. This is another example of Shelley showing the reader that Ozymandias’s power is slowly but surely fading apart.
Shelley denounces the hopeful—and widely held—idea that people, even a “King of Kings, inches can become underworld through their particular accomplishments. In doing so , he could be offering a critique of both cathedral and express, showing that everything that is definitely erected is going to eventually failure, be it an actual statue or perhaps an summary concept, just like Christianity. Even though “Ozymandias” does not contain the revolutionary language that Shelley is known for, it tackles the same topics as his more overtly political poems.