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Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ozymandias

The words "cold command" in line 5 indicate that the king was a military leader, more than likely interested only in conquest, wealth and power. Yet the king was not a complete arrogant tyrant, and he also cared for and fed his subjects: "The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed" (line 8). The face of Ozymandias depicted in the statue reveals a great deal about the character of the king.

Shelley uses the words "frown," and "sneer" to describe the king's visage, insinuating that this was a man of power who looked down on his subjects as well as on other rulers. Shelley also employs adjectives and nouns to build an image of something strong, enormous, vast and seemingly indestructible, and then nouns such as "decay" and "wreck" to carry out his theme that eventually power turns to dust.

The traveler relates that on the pedestal words appear that reveal the purpose of the king having his statue erected. "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair" (lines 10-11). Thus Ozymandias was bragging to present and future leaders that nothing they could do would match his works, and indeed that his works were indestructible. The passage of time, however, has made Ozymandias' words empty, and his boast nothing more than an ironic footnote to the history of his ancient civilization. All that is left of Ozymandias' proud boasts are fragments of his monument, symbolizing the ruin that comes to the once powerful. "Nothing beside remains; round the decay/Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare" (lines 12-13). Another irony is found in Ozymandias' use of the word "despair." He meant for other rulers to look upon his works and despair because they could never match his. However, these r


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Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ozymandias. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 03:55, August 20, 2017, from
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