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Ozymandias Summary in English by P.B Shelley
Ozymandias Summary in English
‘Ozymandias’ by P. B. Shelly is a sonnet describing the remnants of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses
II. The speaker describes a meeting with someone who has travelled to a place where ancient civilisations once existed. We know from the title that he is talking about Egypt. The traveller told the speaker a story about an old, fragmented statue in the middle of the desert. The statue is broken apart, but you can still make out the face of a person. The face looks stem and powerful, like a ruler. The sculptor did a good job at expressing the ruler’s personality and his disdain for others.
On the pedestal near the face, the traveller reads an inscription in which the ruler Ozymandias tells anyone who might happen to pass by, ‘Look around and see how mighty I am!’ But there is no other evidence of his strength in the vicinity of his giant, broken statue. There is just a lot of sand, as far as the eyes can see. The traveller ends his story.
The narrator recalls his encounter with ‘… a traveller from an antique land… ’. The word ‘Antique’ foreshadows future events in which the traveller depicts the ancient period of Ozymandias’ rale. The traveller describes the scene of the rain in lines 2-3. ‘Two vast and trunkless legs of stone /Stand in the desert.’ While the statue’s ‘… half sunk … shattered visage’ lay nearby. This portrays a mood of forgotten decay. The traveller uses negative connotations to describe the statue of Ozymandias—trankless, sunk and shattered to convey this mood. The narrator comments that this sculpture was once a symbol of pride and greatness, but now, it is no more than broken stone.
The narrator, then, goes on to describe the features of the statue’s face whose ‘frown and wrinkled lips… ’ give the impression that the subject was a cold, unforgiving man. The traveller compliments the sculptor on his fine work, ‘… its sculptor well those passions read… ’ The sculptor is commended for capturing the essence of Ozymandias’ personality in his work. The subject of the statue was a man, who sneered upon those weaker than him. Ironically, the sculptor’s hand ‘mocked’ him. However, his ‘passions’ have long become ‘lifeless’, and he himself, lies forgotten.
In the second line of the sextet, the traveller recalls the engraving on the statue. ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings/ Look on my work, ye Mighty, and despair!’ These two lines give the statue an identity and show the reader of the king’s pride. It is the climax of the poem, emphasised by the exclamation mark. He considers himself the ‘king of kings’. ‘Mighty’ begins with a capital M to give the impression that Ozymandias considers himself to be in the same rank as the Gods, he demands reverence from the Gods.
The last three lines of the poem communicate a melancholy tone, which contrasts sharply with the king’s speech previously. Ozymandias now stands amongst his work ‘boundless and bare/The lone and level sand There is irony in that Ozymandias felt that all shall ‘despair’ in face of his ‘work’ that has turned to dust. ‘Nothing more remains.’
Ozymandias Summary Questions and Answers
Answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.
a. The poem is set in
(i) the wilderness
(ii) an ancient land
(iii) a palace
(iv) a desert
(iv) a desert
b. The expression on the face of the statue is one of
c. This poem throws light on the ________ nature of Ozymandias.
d. The sculptor was able to understand Ozymandias
e. The tone of the poem is
Answer the following questions briefly.
a. “The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed. ” Whose hand and heart has the poet referred to in this line?
On the face of the statue of Ozymandias there is an expression of contempt. Though the statue is broken, the expression of the king reminds the viewer of the King whose heart bred such emotions and the hand of the sculptor who carved the statue.
b. “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:” Why does Ozymandias refer to himself as King ofKings? What quality of the king is revealed through this statement.
Ozymandias calls himself king of kings to show his power. These words show his arrogance and his contempt for others.
c. “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! ” Who is Ozymandias referring to when he speaks of ye Mighty? Why should they despair?
The king refers to passersby through time who see the statue of the King. They should feel dejected because he is more powerful than even gods.
d. Bring out the irony in the poem.
The irony in this is that all that remains of the mighty Ozymandias is this broken statue, and that this statue, which was intended to create fear, now only creates wonder because of its ruined condition. The inscription is a verbal irony, for the words are egotistical but are etched on a broken statue that no longer makes other rulers fear.