Compare how poets present ideas about power in ‘Ozymandias’ and in one other poem from ‘Power and conflict’
In both ‘Ozymandias’ and ‘My Last Duchess’, the poets ‘Shelley’ and ‘Browning’ present the theme of power in a negative and temporary way. Shelley uses a typical Petrarchan fourteen line sonnet with a Volta on line 9 to portray his own love for romantic writing styles, but also to reflect Ozymandias love for himself. He uses caesuras and enjambment to fasten and slow down the pace of the poem, allowing the reader to reflect the ruler’s power. Additionally, the use of writing lines with and without iambic pentameter and an irregular rhyme scheme shows how human power can be destroyed and easily forgotten. Browning also uses iambic pentameter to heighten the Duke’s authority and power, but writes the poem as a dramatic monologue to emphasise the Duke of Ferrara’s obsession of power and desire for control. However, the repeated use of enjambment throughout the entirety of the poem could show how the Duke is unable to control his outburst, which contrastingly shows his lack of power. In ‘Ozymandias’, the narrator comes across a “traveller” who tells him about a ‘shattered visage’ which has a ‘sneer of cold command’, highlighting how nothing lasts forever. The metaphor and repetition of the ‘c’ sound created by the alliteration ‘cold command’ creates a harsh tone which reflects the reign of Ozymandias. The noun of ‘sneer’ depicts an image of an arrogant, disrespectful leader who believed everyone was worthless and pointless compared to him. This would make the reader feel angry towards the ruler as they would feel sympathy for those that had to be controlled by such a selfish, overconfident leader. Alternatively, from a Nihilist interpretation, Shelley’s deliberate use of a noun could show how his intention is to show how power doesn’t last forever as a ‘sneer’ is a temporary action and is forgotten very soon, which ultimately mirrors Ozymandias’ statue and status. The second hand experience from the ‘traveller’ adds to this idea as it shows that Ozymandias has now become so inconsequential that the narrator needs to be told about him to know all about his power that he once possessed. This particular quote links to the line ‘nothing beside remains’, which completely juxtaposes the line before: ‘king of kings’. The juxtaposition further supports the theory of Nihilism as it shows how something which had full authority is now a worthless, ‘half sunk colossal wreck’. This would therefore make the reader feel worried and shocked at how it’s inevitable for human power to be destroyed and forgotten so quickly. Linking to context, Ozymandias is another name for the ancient pharaoh Ramesses II (Latin name) of Egypt, who was very similar to King George III (the monarch during the time period when Shelley wrote the poem). Furthermore, Shelley main inspirations to write the poem were to beat his friend in the competition (in which he ended up winning), the French Revolution, how it was a great opportunity for him to express his hatred toward oppressive, expansionist type tyrants like King George III, and finally to show how human power is very limited and insignificant powerful rulers like Napoleon Bonaparte only posses power for a limited time.
In ‘My Last Duchess’, Browning uses the Duke’s objectification to present power in a negative way, but also as an element which allows those high in society to dictate and abuse others. The Duke of Ferrara is seen to be describing to a visitor “my last duchess” that’s “painted on the wall”, illustrating how the duke is showing off his power and importance. The adjective ‘painted’ emphasises how human power can be conveyed through the power of art. This links to ‘Ozymandias’ as the power of art (the statue) can outlive the power of humans (the ruler himself), but will not outlive the power of nature and time as the last phrase in the sonnet “stretch far away” shows how the barren wasteland has lasted longer than the statue, allowing the reader to reflect on how human power is insignificant. The possessive pronoun of ‘my’ emphasises the Duke’s obsession for power, but also how he objectifies things that he shouldn’t, which exaggerates how ruthless and forceful he was. Alternatively, from a feminist interpretation, the possessive pronoun along with the adjective of ‘last’ show the objectification of women, which reinforces the idea that women have a lack of power and significance in a patriarchal society. This also links to ‘Ozymandias’ as the ancient ruler describes himself as “King of Kings”, showing his arrogance, but most importantly supporting a Marxism and Feminist interpretation. Marxism is shown through the singular, supreme leader who controls everyone; Feminism is shown through the use of a masculine representative (King) rather than a female representative (Queen), which fully emphasises how patriarchal society was. The negativity of the power of the Duke is also represented through the reassurance he shows when he says he “chose never to stoop”, and the authority he posses when he says “I gave commands.” Both these actions show how almighty the Duke was, but also how he abused his power by dictating others, showing how power is negative and used to control others. This will make the reader feel sympathetic towards the Duchess as the phrase “then all smiles stopped together” suggests that the Duke had her killed for being too ‘flirtatious’. The reader would feel angry and annoyed by this as it shows them that the Duke has abused his power to kill someone just because of his jealousy. Linking to context, the Duke of Ferrara was suspicious of murdering his own wife so that he could marry again; moreover, women in society were known to be men’s possession due to their lack of power so the use of ‘my’ when describing the Duchess would have been normal to a reader reading at the time it was written. It was also rumoured that the Duchess was flirting heavily with Fra Pandolf (the painter), so made the Duke of Ferrara believe he could “command” his wife and murder her.
Also, if you could, could you think of anything that I could add or change to make it better?
Anyways, thank you so much <3
'Ozymandias' is about a man's pride and arrogance that ultimately proved entirely unfounded. Sonnets are usually about love. Here, nobody loves or even cares about this long dead King. 'Antique' suggests 'historic value' so the land visited by the traveller is given weight and importance. The caveat we must consider is that the adjective could have been more commonplace in 1817 when the poem was written.
It is reported that, 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert...' The King thought his fame and glory would last forever; instead, only two ruined legs remain by themselves in the desert.
A 'visage' is a face or facial expression. The words 'frown' and 'sneer' suggest an unpleasant arrogance and air of condescension. The sculptor had a good eye and captured the character of the King very well. The art survives on these 'lifeless things' but the King's reputation does not. The 'hand that mocked them' is a reference to this sculptor who ridiculed the boastful King. Conversely, the 'heart that fed' is the King himself: his delusions of grandeur.
'King of Kings' suggests a marked arrogance: he thought he was better than any other ruler. The reference is from the Bible (Timothy 6:15) and demonstrates his egotism: he compares himself to Jesus. The command given in ''Look on my works...' suggests a deep and boastful pride in his achievements. He wanted others to 'despair' and be frightened of him. 'Nothing' remains; just 'level sands'.
Alliteration is employed to emphasise the isolation: 'boundless and bare', 'lone and level'. Ultimately, the poem represents how insignificant human beings are when compared to the remorseless passage of time. The poem is about someone who hears something from a stranger who has seen something. It's not about a powerful man. Modern celebrities think they're famous: they'll be forgotten about in years to come.
To conclude, the poem is broadly written in iambic pentameter but it doesn't always stick tightly to this formula. The frayed edges of the meter reflect the disintegration of the fame and glory of Ramses II (Ozymandias).
Thank you so much, I apologise for the spam but I have my exams tomorrow and I was really stressed whether or not it was a good piece of work. I have improved it slightly and worded it a little better as I feel as though I've used power way too much. I've added some more sophisticated vocabulary too.
Also, if you could, could you think of anything that I could add or change to make it better?
Anyways, thank you so much <3
Also, "The reference is from the Bible (Timothy 6:15) and demonstrates his egotism: he compares himself to Jesus":
Could I include this near to where I wrote the quote 'king of kings' to further illustrate the King's egotistical mindset, as he refers himself to Jesus, which shows how he believes he will always be omnipresent and omnipotent, which completely juxtaposes the phrase "nothing beside remains" and the outcome of his statue / reality.
Ultimately, the forgotten king in 'Ozymandias' had delusions of grandeur. The poem is a powerful criticism of arrogance and egotism. He got what he deserved: nothing. 'My Last Duchess' is more sinister; it would appear that the Duke has got away with it. We never find out whether he is brought to account and punished for his actions. I would suspect not. Both poems are about ideas of male power and patriarchy. They make us question our own attitudes to perceived power and encourage reflection on modern society. Thankfully, these kind of despotic men are increasingly consigned to history; I would hope that our world is more progressive.
This stands for:
Point, Evidence, Technique, Analysis, Keyword/Connotations, Imagery, Alternative View, Reference to other parts, Effect on reader and Context
Thank you so much for the layout, I'll try to work from that and hopefully I'll be able to finish in time. Also thanks for helping me out a bunch and motivating me (by saying I know a lot it brought a smile to my face )
Both Ozymandias and My Last Duchess show the effects of power
and how it corrupts. Shelley describes Ozymandias’ ‘sneer of cold
command’ as if to suggest that he is a cruel and heartless leader,
only concerned with his own power and the immortality it will
bring. The Duke in My Last Duchess is similarly concerned with his
own power and status. Although the monologue is supposed to
replicate a conversation, there is no opportunity for his listener to
speak – Browning writes the monologue to show the Duke’s self obsession and that he is not interested in anyone’s views other than
Ozymandias might have had ‘cold command’ of his ‘lands’, just
like the Duke ‘gave commands’. Both poets are concerned with the
effects of power and how in the wrong hands it corrupts. The
Duke is shown to be misguided as Browning uses imagery to hint at
the Duchess’ kindness and gentle spirit (white pony) to prove that
she is innocent and has been killed for nothing. Ozymandias is
shown to also be cruel: ‘sneer of cold command’ – however he has
been left with nothing: ‘the lone and level sands stretch far away’.
It could be argued that the Duke has also been left with nothing:
he has a statue of ‘Neptune’ which is made of cold bronze. He
doesn’t realise this himself however, as he cares nothing for human
relationships and is far more concerned, like Ozymandias, with his
pride and reputation.
Ultimately both leaders are shown by the poets to be corrupt.
Both poets feel that power in the wrong hands has devastating
consequences on the innocent. However, although both poets show
that this corruption is punished in the end, perhaps it is the Duke
who is shown more clearly to be the true despot as Browning uses
the dramatic monologue to show first hand how completely self
absorbed he is.
A thoughtful comparison which becomes exploratory as it develops.
The student holds both poems together which enables a considered
comparison to be made as to the extent to which both poems deal
with ideas about power. By the end, this comparison becomes
evaluative as there is a judgement made as to which poem
demonstrates the effects of power more strongly. There are clear
explanations of the effect of form on meaning, and the ideas about
the corruption of power, and the poets’ attitudes towards this, are
very well explained.
Thank you, I did the exam on Monday and it was relatively okay I suppose. I only wrote around 3 and a bit sides for the poetry question whilst some on my friends did near 10, and even some doing 12 and 15. So i don't know whether or not I'm not gonna do as well as them or if it's enough...?