Compare and contrast the poems “Ozymandias” by Percy Shelley and “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. What are these poems’ views of life achievements? What similarities exist between Ulysses and Ozymandias? How do their attitudes differ in regards to their eventual goals? How do these similarities and differences contribute to the overall tones and interpretations of the poems?

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Percy Shelley's “Ozymandias” was written about the statue of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, a real historical person. Tennyson's “Ulysses” is about a Greek mythological hero, more commonly known in modern schools as Odysseus, from Homer's epic The Odyssey.

The similarities between the two poems lie in their treatment of power and fame as fleeting. Although Ozymandias wanted to ensure his immortality by building a great statue, Shelley's poem shows us this is ultimately impossible—this is what the statue looks like now, according to the poem's speaker:

Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 

Stand in the desert. . . Near them, on the sand, 

Half sunk a shattered visage lies

With time, everything fades, even powerful rulers and their impressive memorials. Ulysses feels the same kind of thing is happening to him while he still lives. He has been a great adventurer, and warrior, and although he is now the king of Ithaca, he already sees the end coming.

(The entire section contains 517 words.)

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