The Meaning of 'Ozymandias' Percy Bysshe Shelly's Poem

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'Ozymandias' tells a story of a traveler who saw a fallen statue of king Ozymandias. A king who once ruled and was feared by many. This poem, however, has a deeper meaning than just the story of a traveler and what he saw on his adventure. The poem 'Ozymandias' is about how power isn't permanent. That eventually it will fade away. This can be seen throughout the poem through personification, hyperbole, and irony. Shelly uses personification to help portray this theme of 'power' and it not lasting forever. An example of this can be seen in the line ' two trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert' (lines 2 and 3). These 'legs of stone' refer to part of the statue king Ozymandias had made for himself years ago. This is an example of personification because it is giving the qualities of legs and standing to the lifeless object of stone. This is used to portray how power does not last forever because of the stone. Stone can be associated with something strong. These two 'legs' that were once whole and strong are now 'trunkless' or broken. This shows how power that may be there now does not always last.

The line ' a shattered visage lies, whose frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,' (4 and 5) also show how Shelly creates the poems definition of power being able to expire. Now a statue can't actually wrinkle its lips and sneer, but the personification of this is used to show the loss of power. Ozymandias was feared by many and most likely prideful and arrogant because of this. The frown, wrinkled lip, and sneer of the statue give life to this. The 'shattered visage 'shows how this once feared figure is destroyed and has power no more. Now that we've seen how personification contributes to the meaning of the poem, let's look at hyperboles affect it. Hyperboles are used to express how the meaning of the poem is how power is not eternal. An example of this can be seen through the expression 'king of kings' (line 10). This is a hyperbole because Ozymandias didn’t actually rule over all kings. The expression shows just how arrogant and prideful he was because of all this power he had not knowing it wouldn’t last. Another example can be found in the line 'boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away' (lines 13 and 14).The word 'boundless' is referring to the sand. It is an exaggeration because sand does not actually go on forever. The infinite sand can be seen as a representation of power and how it is not infinite and over time fades away.

Although Shelly uses hyperboles to show how the poem is about power and how it fades away, he also uses irony to do this. To create the poems meaning of power, Irony is used. An example of irony can be seen through how this statue of a once powerful and prideful king has collapsed. It’s an ironic because it shows how this once powerful king is no longer powerful. A specific example of this can be seen in line 12 with 'nothing beside remains'. This is ironic because before this sentence, the sentence is describing what was on the pedestal of Ozymandias. This statue that once showed power is now crumbled which shows the loss of power. Another specific example can be seen in the line 'stamped on these lifeless things' (line 7). This is talking about the sculptor of the pedestal. It's ironic because even though sculptor may have new that this statue wouldn’t last forever. That the power that King Ozymandias had would eventually vanish. Shelly's poem 'Ozymandias' describes the experience of a traveler. It mentions the pedestal of the King Ozymandias and how it is now destroyed. The poem, however; is about power and how it doesn’t last forever. Shelly creates this meaning through the use of personification, hyperbole, and irony. He uses this to show just how power can be lost. That just because you are prideful doesn’t mean that this power you once had will survive.

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