The Triumph of Life Questions and Answers
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Please explain the poem "The Triumph of Life."

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In "The Triumph of Life," Shelley shows us how, throughout history, the human spirit has often been crushed by life itself. In ancient Rome, triumphs were large, lavish processions staged to celebrate a military victory. They were elaborate affairs, with long lines of captive slaves from the vanquished enemy dragged along in their wake. This is an appropriate metaphor for how Shelley sees life itself. Life triumphs over the human spirit just as completely as the Roman legions triumphed over their enemies. For Shelley, life is a "painted veil" that conceals more than it reveals. Like a Roman triumph, it is a colorful pageant which successfully disguises its crushing of the human spirit. The crowds that throng the triumph's route may cheer, just as we may derive a superficial enjoyment of life. But their spirits—and ours—have been crushed just as surely as the sad procession of vanquished slaves paraded during a Roman triumph.

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lovekraft | Student

"The Triumph of Life" is a reflection of man's eternal struggle against the force of life its self. Shelley eludes to the idea that we live within a construct where everything is not always as it seems. Often, the triumph of victors runs parallel with the horrific defeat of a less prevailing force and morality isn't often the main component. Shelley wants us to realize that we should remain keen on our true path in life and not be seduced into worshipping the false idol of triumph when it means overall suffering and negativity for the majority in the end. Why is this significant? Because everyone's spirit, even the victors and the spectators cheering along the sideline end up with a corrupted, broken essence in the end when they allow their perception of life to triumph over them esoterically.