Ozymandias Questions and Answers
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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What are some examples of metaphors in "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley?

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A metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words "like" or "as." "Ozymandias" is not a sonnet heavy on metaphors, but we can locate a few. For example, the "two vast and trunkless legs" of stone of Ozymandias's statue are a symbol for the futility of human glory. Shelley is metaphorically comparing Ozymandias's quest to be the great king who everyone fears, even other rulers, to the broken statue he has become. Like the statue, Ozymandiass' kingdom is shattered and in ruins, buried in desert sands, as is Ozymandias himself. He is no longer mighty and fearsome but, like his statue, a pathetic reminder of long-lost power.

The "boundless and bare" sands of the desert are also a symbol for the relentless way time buries all human achievement by patiently outlasting the span of human civilization. We can consider how these sands function metaphorically in the mental image this poem creates as well.

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