What are the poetic devices used in the famous poem "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelly?  

Shelley's poem "Ozymandias" uses iambic pentameter and a combination of Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnet forms; its rhyme scheme is nonstandard for both forms, perhaps emphasizing its theme of the fracture of older authority. The poem uses the figures of speech of synecdoche and oxymoron; the poetic devices of alliteration, enjambment, caesura, imagery, and symbolism; and the dramatic device of irony in contrasting Ozymandias's excessive pride with the reality of his statue's ruin.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The poem "Ozymandias" describes a statue that has collapsed in the middle of a desert. The statue serves as a symbol for human pride and power. It was commissioned by Ozymandias (the Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh, Rameses II) to represent his power, but the fact that it has now collapsed and is seen by nobody other than an occasional traveller implies that human pride and power are temporary and inevitably become meaningless in time.

In the fourth and fifth lines of the poem, the poet uses triplism to emphasize the despotic nature of Ozymandias. The face of the statue is described as comprising a "frown, / And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command." The alliteration of the phrase "cold command" also creates a harsh tone (because of the hard "c" sound), which echoes the harsh expression of the statue's face.

In the eighth line, there is a juxtaposition between "The hand that mocked them" and "the heart that fed." This juxtaposition of one phrase which implies cruelty and another which...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 897 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team