Percy Shelley – 1819 Themes

Percy Shelley – 1819 Themes

Percy Byssche Shelley who lived from 1792-1822 was an English romantic poet whose writings challenged English politics and its conservative values. He lived under the rule of King George III and witnessed the detrimental effects the monarchy had on the country. Many of his works criticised the oppressive rule of the monarchy and expressed radical ideas of revolution. In his sonnet “Ozymandias” Shelley challenges the fallibility of oppressive and arrogant rulers and explores the idea that mankind is insignificant compared to nature. This is realized through poetic techniques such symbolism sound and structure. Shelley represents the frailty of human achievements through the symbolism of the weathered statue isolated in the vast desert. Shelley indicates the insignificance of the statue in the first line “a traveller from an antique land”. The word antique indicates that the land is old and unimportant; there is no celebration for Ozymandias he is only regarded by travellers passing by. This proud king believed his legacy would last forever yet all that remains are “trunkless legs of stone”. This use of imagery accentuates the idea of the uselessness of human accomplishments. The word “trunkless” underlines the emptiness of his achievements. The once mighty king is now no more than lifeless rock. This idea is also supported in the last line, “the lone and level sands stretch far away”. The use of long vowel sounds such as “e” and “a” in this sentence represent the flow of time. This flowing sentence conveys the infinite nature of the world and man’s temporary relationship with it. The alliteration in line 13 “boundless and bare” combined with the use of enjambment highlights the idea of the emptiness of Ozymandias’ kingdom. The alliteration of “b” symbolises the harshness of the desert and its total bareness. Ozymandias has nothing but an empire of sand, a kingdom which is hardly solid or permane…


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