OzymandiasWhat is the attitude in ozymandias?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Great poem and great posts!  The irony is hard to miss, I think.    Here we are in this wasteland of a desert.  The last lines say the sand stretches far away, "lone and level," "boundless and bare." There is literally nothing for miles in any direction--except for this "colossal wreck."  The statue (more like a monument, actually) was once the mark of a great leader, Ozymandias, who controlled all the lands and peoples as far as the eye could see.  He called himself the "king of kings," and he warned anyone drawing near enough to read the statue that they were to observe what he had created and "despair."  Apparently they were to tremble in their boots (sandals?) at the mere thought of "messin' with The Man."  Now, of course, nothing is left but a "shattered visage" and a whole lotta nothin'.  I love #4 post's commentary about that.  This is a story of pride and arrogance about eternal fame which, ironically, turns to nothing but dust...or sand.

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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I agree with the above post.  Shelley's poem is full of irony, and the diction used throughout the lines suggests this.  The statue was once great, but is now a "colossal Wreck," a "shattered visage."  The Pharaoh and his legacy were supposed to be immortal, yet the symbol of his legacy has collapsed and is being swallowed by the desert.

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drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

"Ozymandias" is one of my favorite poems!

By "attitude," I think you mean tone. Enotes' definition of tone, "an element used frequently in poetry to convey feeling and emotion," is discussed in detail at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_(literary).

The tone of the poem is ironic. The ancient king was presumptuous in exhorting the onlooker to view his "works," which have long since dissolved into dust.

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ntibane | Student | (Level 1) Honors

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"Ozymandias" is one of my favorite poems!

By "attitude," I think you mean tone. Enotes' definition of tone, "an element used frequently in poetry to convey feeling and emotion," is discussed in detail at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_(literary).

The tone of the poem is ironic. The ancient king was presumptuous in exhorting the onlooker to view his "works," which have long since dissolved into dust.

Sometimes learners do not understand the meaning of the word Irony. Well, it means the opposite of what is said is true. Example, If I say to your friend who is constantly failing school that she is clever, that will be an irony because she is failing. How can a clever person fail?

Sometimes irony can also be presented visually. E.g. through cartoon. This could be a grafic of a policeman being arrested and a thug running away.

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nusratfarah | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone/ Stand in the desert./ Near them on the sand,/ Half sunk, a shattered visage lies"

- the starting lines of the poem "Ozymandias" create an ironic mood. The poem starts by saying that the sculpture of the king is just shattered now beoming a savage.

"Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/ Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,/ The lone and level sands stretch far away"

- and these lines clearly emphasise the speaker's mocking attitude. Here, being a representative of the common men, the speaker signifies the brutality, pride and arrogance of Ozymandias who tortured his subject misusing his power. He had full confidence over his fame; but often underneath reality tells something else. Neither he nor his statue are intact, like his fragile fame and pride. The sculpture also has become ruined. This irony is concentrated within the 14 line sonnet.

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stegny | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

The above posts are absolutely right... The poem is ironic. Ozmadias commissioned a statue to record forever that he was a king of kings. But now we see that his empire fell and his capital fell and his statue was eroded into the desert. 

But ALSO, we can still see on the statue that the artist who made it, thought Ozmadias was a stupid, ridiculous peacock. Something DOES survive from the totally destroyed empire of Ozmandias... the artist's superior scorn for a brutal leader.

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