Ozymandias - Essay Examples and Topic Ideas

The Romantic Era, rooted not solely on peaceful pastorals and a yearning for nature’s simplicity, was a revolutionary period of protest. A generation grew weary and frustrated, a fledging group of men and women dared to defy the antiquated practices of English society. The traditional establishments and canons were under siege, articles and pamphlets lit aglow by insurgents’ scathing sentiments.

Radical writers of the time targeted the nation’s educational and legal systems, religion, and largely aristocracy and royalty, harshly and defiantly criticizing these societal structures. (Lindstrom 40) Percy Bysshe Shelley, was one of these writers. He was rebellious, and his short, theatrical life’s position represents the romantic era’s robust reactions and radical philosophies. He pinned his most famous poem “Ozymandias” in 1817, as part of a light-hearted contest. (Khan 164) Through Percy Bysshe Shelley’s use of imagery, diction, and irony elements of the Romantic Movement impact the essential thematic concepts of the poem “Ozymandias.”

First, Shelley’s themes are amplified by messages of romanticism in the depictions of “Ozymandias” Shelley sets the scene by restricting the poem’s vivid, visual scope. “Ozymandias” only contains a single focal point, the suffering sculpture of Ozymandias, a prominent Egyptian pharaoh. King Ozymandias desired deification and a life infinite through his feats and figures. However, Shelley’s poem portrays nature’s destruction of man’s deceitful splendor, leaving a statue in sandy ruins. “Ozymandias” rather exalts the statue’s creator, a commoner compared to the pharaoh, an attacking aristocracy. The ruler has not lived through nature’s rule, while the creative commoner’s sentiments live in the sculpture’s face. “And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command/Tell that its sculptor well those passions read/Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things.” (Shelley 5-7) Mankind’s mutability is a reliable romantic theme, present in the poem “Ozymandias,” is the descent of the mighty into oblivion. (Khan 164) Shelley’s juxtaposition of the ‘sneer of cold command’ alongside ‘these lifeless things,’ reminds readers of absolute power’s definite demise. Next, through diction, elements of Romanticism are evident in Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”

Shelley’s sonnet introductory lines’ use of the expression “antique land” is a romantic reflection of the movement’s curiosity in the archaic and consequently conspicuous. The poem’s title is a representation of the Greek rendition of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II’s moniker. Readers are aware of Shelley’s allusion to Egypt as the location of the traveler’s tale. (Khan 163) The severely stressed sounds “c” are repeated throughout the poem to the added accentuation of pharaoh Ozymandias’s harsh and heavy-handed brashness, in turn the sounds are suggestive of the atmosphere in which the ancient king reigned supreme. The incredulous, awe-inspiring power possessed by nature is highlighted alongside the feebleness of men by the romantic Shelley in this sonnet. Shelley insinuates to readers that the powerful, or mighty should sense desolation in Ozymandias’s case, for the once powerful pharaoh is now absolutely absent. Egypt’s devouring desert powders and Earth’s merciless time have eroded the olden pharaoh’s prideful vanity, and for contemporary controllers an equal destiny is designed.

Ozymandias’s statue sneers, conveying disdain, disrespect, or derision in its expression, and the implication that comes with such an expression is that Ozymandias held huge and heavy impact over his subjects, yet for them he also carried diminutive esteem. Lastly, hints of Romanticism are evident in with Shelley’s use of irony in the sonnet “Ozymandias”. Forgoing the conventional rhyme scheme in an effort to employ eccentricity in the pattern of ABAB, ACDC, ECE, FEF, the direct effect of a textile of sound intertwined in rhythm is fashioned, aiding in underlining the sonnet’s indispensable irony. The unencountered expectations of readers are due to forced syntax by the sonnet’s uncommon rhyme which generates tension that corresponds with the poem’s themes. Shelley venerates the crafty sculptor with subdued irony, infinite life is granted not to Ozymandias’s splendor but to the arrogant pride of the pharaoh. The sneer captured and crafted by the sculptor instead carries Ozymandias’s condescension and conceit.In closing, Shelley’s sonnet “Ozymandias” was published in 1817 during the English Romantic Era. Shelley, an English romantic social critic and poet, by a large number, is esteemed among the greatest and one of the most influential leaders of Europe’s late seventeenth century social and intellectual movement which reached its apex near the middle of the nineteenth century. (Lindstrom 38)

The core features of Romanticism are a veneration of commonalities, a disdain for the crowned, government, and wealthy class of society, an adoration of the power and beauty nature possesses along with a disregard for earthly effects and the rule of man.(Khan 166) In his book, Perspectives: Romantic, Victorian, and Modern Literature, Jalal Khan asserts that Shelley, “takes the opportunity to convey an overall message not only about the political tyrants of all times (past, present, and future) but also, as recent research has shown, literary tyrants of his time as well,” in the poem “Ozymandias.” (166) The elements of Romanticism are alive in the works of Shelley. The overriding themes present in of Percy Bysshe Shelly’s sonnet “Ozymandias” exemplify Romanticism’s literary impact through imagery, diction, and irony.

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