TEXTBOOK QUESTIONS (SOLVED)
5. 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?
Ans. The hand and heart refer to Ozymandias, the mighty king who ruled his kingdom with great cruelty. He looked after his people and fed them but hated them and felt that they were weak and helpless.
(b) ‘‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings.’’ Why does Ozymandias refer to himself as ‘king of kings’ ? What quality of the king is revealed through this statement ?
Ans. Ozymandias was very mighty, conceited, arrogant and was intoxicated with power. He was very boastful and proud and so considered himself to be even greater than other kings. He thought himself to be above all on this world. He was very confident of his might and extraordinary power.
(c) ‘‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’’ Who is Ozymandias referring to when he speaks of ye Mighty? Why should they despair?
Ans. Ozymandias is referring to anyone who considers himself to be mighty and powerful. He throws a challenge to him that he should look at the work of Ozymandias first and then consider their might. Others will despair because none can ever equal Ozymandias’ achievements and power.
(d) Bring out the Irony in the poem.
[C.B.S.E., 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. Ozymandias was very boastful of his power. His arrogant and shattered face, broken statue, the waste and ruins around prove that the great king’s work and civilisation has crumbled to dust. Time has levelled his fame and work and the ruins, along with the shattered statue bear a testimony to the fact that nothing lasts for ever and all the boasts will be disproved ironically in the end.
(e) “Nothing beside remains.” What does the narrator mean when he says these words?
[C.B.S.E., 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. All power, might, civilisations, status crumble to dust. Man is insignificant before the power of Time and everything is reduced to nought. The statement ‘‘Dust thou art to dust returnest’’ proves true in the end. This is the true destiny of man and the passage of Time proves to be a great leveller.
(f) What is your impression of Ozymandias as a king ?
Ans. Ozymandias was a very boastful and arrogant king, who believed in his might to rule over his kingdom. He was egoistic, very conceited and he looked after and fed the citizens as a favour. He hankered after immortality and eternal fame. Ozymandias believed that none could ever equal his exploits.
(g) What message is conveyed in the poem ‘‘Ozymandias’’?
Ans. The poet uses a shattered statue to highlight the ephemeral nature of fame, popularity and power. The great king’s proud, boast (I king of kings, look on my work, ye mighty and despair) has been ironically disproved. Ozymandias’ works and might have crumbled and disappeared, his civilization has disappeared, all has been razed to the ground by the impersonal, indiscriminate destructive power of history. The ruined statue is merely a monument of one man’s ‘hubris’ and a powerful statement about the insignificance of human beings to the passage of Time.
Ozymandias is first and foremost a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of political power. So this becomes Shelley’s most dominant sonnet with political overtones. Ozymandias not only symbolises political power but the statue is a metaphor for the pride and ‘hubris’ for all mankind. It is worth noting that all the remains of Ozymandias, his work of art and a group of words as Shakespeare has done in his sonnets, demonstrate the fact that art and language long outlive the other legacies of power.
OTHER IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
1. Discuss the poetic style of the poem, ‘‘Ozymandias’’.
Ans. Ozymandias written in 1817 is a very masterful sonnet by Shelley. It is written in iambic pentameter and was an unusual rhyme-scheme. The poem interlinks the octave by gradually replacing old rhymes with new ones in the form of ABABACDCEDEFEF.
This sonnet is Shelly’s brilliant rendering of the story of a powerful king. Framing the sonnet as a story told to the speaker by ‘‘a traveller from an antique land’’, enables Shelley to add another level of obscurity to Ozymandia’s position with regard to the reader. Rather than seeing the statue with our own eyes, we hear it from someone who has heard from another source, so and so forth. Thus the ancient king is rendered less commanding. The distancing of the narrative serves to undermine his power over us, like the passage of time. Shelley gradually reconstructs the figure of the king. First we see the ‘‘vast trunkless legs,’’ then the ‘shattered visage’’ and, then the inscription. The expression on the king’s face, then we are introduced to the king’s people of his time. The kingdom is now imaginatively complete and we are introduced to the proud boast of the king. With this the poet demolishes our imaginary picture of the king, with centuries of ruin and bare sands between it and us. Basically the poet is devoted to a single metaphor throughout the poem – the shattered ruined statue in the desert waste land with its arrogant and passionate face.