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Ozymandias Essay

1505 words - 6 pages

"With great power, comes great responsibility." Even though this quote is from a popular comic book, it is very applicable to the life of a king. A king has to be a role model, has to be strong, has to be able to make smart decisions and needs to be able to lead a country. Shakespeare's Scottish king in his well-known tragedy Macbeth and the Egyptian pharaoh from Shelley's poem "Ozymandias" both had the difficult task of being a leader. In the time that they ruled, Macbeth and Ozymandias were very powerful kings. Infamous and destructive, the two kings made an impact in their societies. Although Ozymandias and Macbeth were kings during different time periods and ruled in different parts of the world, the two men shared many similar characteristics. Their egotistical mindsets, ruthless and unkind natures and choosing to ignore their consciences led to achieving big things, yet also caused their downfalls. When comparing these men, many things can be learned about the rise and fall of a leader.

Both Ozymandias and Macbeth were egotistical and thought of themselves as being better than others. Macbeth was a nobleman and was respected by many. After doing many positive things for his country on the battlefield, he was praised by King Duncan.
"O worthiest cousin,
The sin of my ingratitude even now
Was heavy on me.
Only I have left to say,
More is thy due than more than all can pay."
(Macbeth. I. iv.17-24.)
His wife and his friends also commended him for his bravery. Macbeth knew of his accomplishments, but after hearing compliments from everyone he knew, Macbeth became overconfident and his ego grew. He started to believe that he was unbeatable because of his faith in the witches' prophecies. For example, he was told that he would not be harmed by anyone "born of woman," causing him to feel invincible because everyone is technically "woman born." However, these prophecies were half-truths and should not have been taken so literally; being born by way of a c-section didn't count as being "born of woman" to the witches. Like Macbeth, Ozymandias had a very large ego; he thought he was better than any other pharaoh. He wanted to be remembered as being the best, long after he was dead. Pre-existing monuments that contained engraved accomplishments of other great pharaohs were changed so that they contained Ozymandias' name. Also, he had someone sculpt a large monument of himself; that in itself shows how amazing he thought he was. Engraved on the pedestal below the statue was, "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings?" ("Ozymandias", 10) which further proves that he felt he was the best king that there had been and there ever would be. Macbeth and Ozymandias were too arrogant. They thought that nothing or no one could ever bring them down, but they were wrong. No matter how great you are, eventually, everyone has to die.

In contrast to the compassion seen in the character of King Duncan in the play Macbeth, Ozymandias...

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