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The Way Percy Shelley Presents The Theme Of Power In Ozymandias

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Power is presented in Ozymandias by a king’s statue. The statue says a lot about Rameses II the king, his attitude, and how he ruled.

Firstly, the phrase “vast and trunkless” suggests the statue was large but “trunkless” meaning that it’s without a body. This phrase shows that even without the body the legs alone are huge enough. Time has passed and part of the structure is still standing, not completely ruined.

In line 5 the quote “wrinkled lip and sneer” may imply that the king was arrogant. Throughout the text, there are negative connotations about the king. Along with the negative connotations, it’s fair to say that the sculptor disliked the king because this is an unflattering depiction of him. Another clue to the sculptor’s hatred towards the king was “Tell that it’s sculptor well those passions read”. A passion is a strong emotion, a strong emotion could be hatred, this is the only example of a strong emotion the sculptor has towards the king. He intended to ridicule his leader by art. It shows the effect of how art can conquer power.

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Linking with the last paragraph, the phrase “Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things gives the impression the king’s alive because of his statue which may be an accurate representation of his personality although he was dead several years ago. Since this was a ruin, it’s not easy to understand the ruins in detail but passerby’s if any would be able to understand that there was once a monarchy in the area, they’re in.

Following on, the cite “The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed” portrays the king being a man who made fun of his own people. His power made him get away with his wrongdoings. “The heart that fed” indicates that people depend on him for them to be alive. The metaphor suggests that he’s so significant that without him, his population would die.

From Line 13 – 15 there was a contrast from the beginning explaining how nature and time had taken the king's power away. “Round the decay” suggests that he’s nothing but a ruin. “Of that colossal wreck links back to the beginning phrase “vast and trunkless legs”. Even though the statue is massive it is still a wreck, therefore, it’s a forgotten ruin. Nowadays there are many statues so there is insignificance about this statue. The other 3 phrases “boundless and bare”, “lone and level”, “sands stretch far away” all show how the king has been overruled by nature and art. There aren’t many visitors that visit this site as it’s isolated. It’s abandoned which shows that the current population doesn’t care about an outdated king’s statue. Power had gone, it’s not immortal.

The overall message of this poem is power is never permanent even if Rameses II a ruler who thought his powers were everlasting, it can be taken over by the most innocent of things.

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The Way Percy Shelley Presents The Theme Of Power In Ozymandias. (2021, September 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from
“The Way Percy Shelley Presents The Theme Of Power In Ozymandias.” Edubirdie, 16 Sept. 2021,
The Way Percy Shelley Presents The Theme Of Power In Ozymandias. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Feb. 2024].
The Way Percy Shelley Presents The Theme Of Power In Ozymandias [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 16 [cited 2024 Feb 23]. Available from:
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