Identify the tone of voice one would use when reading the inscription to relay the type of person Ozymandias was.

The tone of voice one would use when reading the inscription would be arrogant, but cold and calm, certain of his own superiority. This would relay perfectly the type of person Ozymandias was, a powerful pharaoh used to people obeying his every command.

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In Shelley's "Ozymandias," the king's face is described as being marked by a "wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command." These signs of his personality, along with the bombastic words in the inscription in the poem's sestet, suggest the nature of Ozymandias's character. He was arrogant, pompous, and egocentric, the type of person who erects massive statues in his own honor and puts boastful inscriptions on the pedestal.

The danger in conveying this through tone of voice lies in a natural tendency to overact. One might boom out the words of the inscription harshly and scornfully, trying to make every word convey Ozymandias's contempt for the rest of humanity. The king probably would not have sounded like this, however. He would not have had to raise his voice, for instance, since he was certain that, whatever he said, everyone around him would be listening intently. The best tone to convey Ozymandias's particular type of arrogance would be one of nonchalant indifference. His voice would be well-modulated, cold and calm, perhaps with a rather slow, drawling delivery, lingering on the syllables of his name. He would probably use a slightly ironic tone when pronouncing the word "Mighty," as if to emphasize the absurdity of anyone else thinking themselves mighty in comparison with him. He would also place emphasis on the words "my Works," since he is inordinately proud of these achievements.

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From the inscription on Ozymandias' sunken statue, we can tell a lot about what kind of person he was:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Straight away, we know what kind of man this pharaoh was: arrogant, self-important, and with delusions of grandeur. Our initial impressions are only reinforced when we say the words on the pedestal out loud. These words can only really be delivered in a particular tone of voice, a powerful, thunderous tone that speaks of an all-conquering tyrant used to his every word being obeyed without question.

When he occupied the throne, Ozymandias must have been a very powerful ruler indeed. How else to account for his self-description as “King of Kings”, an epithet usually attributed to Jesus Christ? And then there's his bold, arrogant challenge to “ye Mighty” to look upon his works and despair. It's virtually impossible for these words to be delivered in anything but a particular tone of voice.

Given that Ozymandias is no more, and that his statue is crumbling into the desert sands, the words on his pedestal have a hollow ring to them. After reading them out loud, it is tempting to dissolve into fits of laughter at the sheer arrogance of this long-dead despot, this self-proclaimed “King of Kings”.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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