Irony In Ozymandias By Percy Bysshe Shelley

610 words - 2 pages

Ozymandias, the Greek name for Ramses II, is a sonnet written by Percy Bysshe
Shelley. In the poem, Shelley uses irony as a form of satire, mocking tyranny. The poem was published, according to Ian Lancashire (University of Toronto) near January of 1818. At that time, for Europeans, places like Egypt were considered exotic and that adds to the popularity of the sonnet at the time. Shelley wrote this poem in a competition with Horace Smith who also wrote a similar poem, with the same overall themes and name.
The sonnet itself is written in iambic pentameter. The first line is a reference to the speaker, "a traveler from an antique land." Imagery and figurative language used at the beginning of the sonnet,(words such as vast, trunkless, and desert) add to the desolate and barren image and tone of the sonnet. Shelley, through the form of the traveler, describes the statue?s face or ?visage? to have a wrinkled lip, and a ?sneer of cold command.? This describes a negative aspect towards the tyrannical figure. Shelley himself was against tyranny, as that is obvious in his poem here (Ian Lancashire, University of Toronto). ?The sculptor well those passions read? is a line that shows that the sculptor was able to capture this image of the wrinkled lip and sneer perfectly on the statue. The next line is a beginning of the irony of the poem. The statue itself was in ruins, yet these ?passions? or facial expressions the sculptor captured on the statue are still there, ?stamp?d on these lifeless things.? The speaker calls the sculptor ?the hand that mock?d them.? The sculptor though, created the statue through ?the heart that fed.? Ozymandias is the ?heart that fed.? He fueled the sculptor?s mocking. The sculpture was supposed to be made to praise Ozymandias, yet...

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