Ozymandias Questions and Answers
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What inferences does the narrator make about Ozymandias from the way the face of the statue looks?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,320 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Ozymandias's face as depicted on his statue looks sneering and cold to the narrator. The face leads the narrator to infer that Ozymandias was a haughty, unpleasant ruler. The narrator says this of the statue's visage, or face:

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

In other words, the sculptor had the talent to transmit the fact that Ozymandias was an arrogant, probably tyrannous, king.

From the great size of the statue and the inscription, which tries to intimidate powerful people into believing that resistance to him is futile, we as readers get an even stronger sense of Ozymandias as a tyrant. He comes across as one who used force to impose his will on others. Ironically, however, nothing now is left of him or his great kingdom except for a broken statue on the desert sands, which might be the real reason for the "mighty" to despair—they realize they might have the same fate.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Brandie Davis eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write64 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and Arts

The narrator of the poem "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley makes many inferences about the king based upon the way the face of the statue appears to him. The narrator first comments upon the statue's "frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command." He notes that the sculptor of the statue must have seen "those passions read which yet survive" when he was creating the statue. We can infer from these descriptions that Ozymandias was a harsh, unkind ruler. We can infer that he gave commands with little empathy, as his coldness would show. From the frown upon the statue's face, the reader can infer that Ozymandias was not a happy man, nor a man prone to showing any form of weakness through his emotions. The inscription upon the pedestal, "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair" further illustrates the king's haughty attitude, and cold and calculating nature.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial