What is the irony in the poem "Ozymandias"?

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Irony takes place when a given situation turns out to be quite different than initially expected, especially in a humorous or poignant way. As was mentioned in the previous post, the irony of the poem lies in the fact that there is nothing left to show for Ozymandias's reign. Throughout the poem, Shelley describes the decaying remains of the statue dedicated to the tyrannical Ramesses II. All that is left of the statue is a crumbled pair of stone legs and a detached stone face that has sunk into the sand. The inscription on the pedestal reads, "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look at my works, Ye Mighty, and despair!" The irony of this statement is that there are no longer any "works" left to marvel at. Evidence of Ozymandias's imperial accomplishments has diminished with time, and there are no remains of his former glory. Shelley's poem explores the transience of power, empire, and legacy.

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The irony in Ozymandias pivots on these lines: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my work, ye Mighty, and despair!" Ozymandias, once a powerful Egyptian tyrant, had a huge statue built of himself and inscribed it with those lines. Ironically, the statue is now broken and scattered, and the once mighty kingdom is an empty, barren desert. While Ozymandias meant people, especially powerful people, to tremble before his enormous statue with the "sneer of cold command" on its "visage" (face), and to be frightened by his immense city and powerful army (his "works"), he now has nothing. He is nothing.

The irony is that instead of trembling and despairing at his power, the mighty should now tremble and despair at Ozymandias's loss of power, because this too will happen to them. Rulers may think they are safe and secure, but in reality they will be broken. Ozymandias meant his words to mean one thing: as is always the case with irony, they ended up to mean something different from what he intended. 

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