How can the poem "Ozymandias" be related to contemporary culture?

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In the sonnet "Ozymandias," the once-great ruler who commissioned a statue of himself wanted others to fear him. The inscription read, "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" Nowadays, terrorists desire to strike fear into the hearts of the mighty and everyday citizens. Thus terrorists plan a work of destruction, such as a bombing, for the purpose of bringing glory to their cause by causing death and terror. 

The sculptor, according to the visitor in the poem, showed the ancient Egyptian king had a "hand that mocked them and [a] heart that fed." This suggests a leader who uses his power for personal gain, not to benefit those he leads. This predatory style of leadership is ubiquitous, even in American society. Consider an employer who hires undocumented workers so he can pay them less than the required minimum wage. Likewise, teaching hospitals that require medical interns to work 30-hour shifts are taking unfair advantage of young doctors. 

Unfortunately, even candidates for the highest office in the land have engaged in practices that enrich or gratify themselves at the expense of others. The Clinton Foundation has been accused of engaging in "pay-for-play" while Donald Trump, though not a politician, seems also to have a predatory bent as revealed in his "hot mic" comments where he stated, "When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything." Such a mindset indicates a mocking hand and a feeding heart on those who are less powerful. 

Whatever one's political persuasions, one can be aware of how people in high positions use their power. In American culture, everyday citizens still have a measure of control over their lives so they can avoid being mocked or fed on by powerful economic and political leaders. 

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This is a great question, as Percy Shelley's poem "Ozymandias" deals a very universal theme: the temporary nature of human existence and all things associated with it. Consider, for instance, that the poem considers the tomb of the king Ozymandias, also known as Ramses II. Based on the inscription on this once mighty building, the structure was meant to be a testament to the never-ending power of Ramses. However, as is cleverly made evident by the poem, the tomb has fallen into disrepair and is lost in the desert, thus suggesting that Ramses' power was entirely temporary, just as he himself was temporary. 

This notion of temporality can be applied to contemporary culture in a variety of ways. For an example of how this poem remains relatable, look no further than celebrity culture. These days, celebrities like Taylor Swift and Kanye West are culturally dominant, and everyone obsesses over their music, who they're dating, and who they're fighting with. It's important to remember, however, that this dominance is temporary: like every other artist before them, both Swift and West will cease to be relevant and will be replaced with other artists. Thus, no matter how powerful our cultural figures seem to be, their reigns of significance remain short and, in the grand scheme of things, often forgettable and insignificant. Therefore, though the celebrity culture of the 21st century might not seem as grand as a massive statue built in the desert, it is still an example of an important theme in Shelley's poem: all humans, no matter how important they seem, are ultimately temporary and fated to fade away. 

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