Irony in Ozymandias
Shelly produces a wonderful piece of irony in Ozymandias. When looking at Ozymandias we should look at the Greek breakdown of the name. "Ozy comes from the Greek 'ozium,' which means to breath, or air. Mandias comes from the Greek 'mandate,' which means to rule," notes Biterman in his analysis of the poem. The fact that the derivative of the great Ozymandias's name is Ruler of Air is where the
It is easiest to begin from the inscription on the base of the statue as it gives us the best insight into the man it represents. 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!(lines 10-11)' This quote infers his belief that no one will ever surpass his works.
One might even conclude from this that he would even challenge God himself. We then can go back and look at how Shelley described the statue. His description tells us what condition God leaves the model of this mocking fool: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command.(lines 2-5)" The condition of the statue in itself shows that Ozymandias was not the greatest ruler there ever was.
In looking at the condition of the statue and his words after you really do see the
Shelly writes, "Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed.(lines 6-8)" On this point I would have to agree with Joe Kelly in his belief that Ozymandias's heart fed on the passions of his people. If he had nurtured his people instead of oppressing them their passion would have been with maintaining his memory, instead of destroying it.
There is a great deal of
Biterman, Aaron J. " Analysis of Ozymandias." Dec. 2000. 23 Mar. 2003 .
Kelly, Joe. " Mighty Works in Shelley's "Ozymandias"." 23 Mar. 2003 < http://www.cofc.edu/~kellyj/explication.html>.