"Ozymandias - Power and Despair" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Essay by jsardinasUniversity, Bachelor'sA, December 2002

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To despair is one of the strongest emotions that Freud's id could possibly produce. It's an uncontrollable feeling that leads even the worthiest and most powerful men to emptiness and hopelessness. In the 14-line poem, "Ozymandias" by PB Shelley, Shelley chooses the greatest setting for utter despair in using a desert. Power and despair are greatly correlated in this poem as well as many others.

Under the immediate assumption that Ozymandias is the sculptor of the barren statues, one must realize that even kings cannot contain their passions and emotions. Ozymandias erected a statue of his destress where none could see it and without habitation for miles. Leaving these statues behind, the sculptor is given a chance to reveal to others the underlying sadness of his soul. "[Passions read] Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them". Though the sculptor has left the mortal world, his soul remains for all passers-by to see.

He/She is attempting to force others into his/her realm of pain just by seeing his/her creation. This poem causes havoc upon the mind of the reader as they think of utter desolation.

The statue is described as a "colossal wreck boundless and bare" drawing a parallel for the reason in which it was built. The condition of the stones, delicately but descriptively worded by Shelley, only emphasizes the despair drawn into the stone by the sculptor's hand. By using words such as "frown", "sneer", and "mocked", the author provides us with a slight portrait of the sculptor. It gives us a picture of a powerful king with no incentive or reason to smile. The phrase 'cold command" portrays him as a militaristic leader that has seen more death and destruction than a whole army and has come to a new...