EXAM TIPS FOR ENGLISH CLASS 10, Chapter – Ozymandius by P.B.Shelley

Meritnation|Mar 15th, 2012 02:40pm

In today’s article, we will focus on the poem Ozymandius by Percy Bysshe Shelley. We are expecting some questions to come from this poem. Accordingly, we suggest you to go through the poem. We are presenting a step-by-step method of preparing it so that you score the maximum.

It is a must to go through the summary of the poem which would help you to understand and remember the theme and any question related to the same can be answered without any trouble.

We are providing here the summary of the poem.

Ozymandias, the most outstanding political sonnet written by P.B.Shelley throws light on the power of time. Nothing can beat time. It treats everyone equally whether rich or poor, king or pauper.

The poem is an account of the meeting and conversation between the poet and the narrator. The narrator had just returned from an antique and unique land. The poem begins with the traveller telling the poet that he had seen a vast but ruined statue, where stood two giant legs, isolated in the desert. The face was sunk in the sand, frowning and sneering. The sculptor interpreted his subject well. There also was a pedestal at the statue, where the traveller noticed that the statue read “Ozymandias, King of Kings.” Through the note written on pedestal, the traveller came to know that he was a powerful king named Ozymandias who could not face the power of time. His strength, works or ego-nothing had remained. He had been perished by the storm of time and was now standing trunk-less in the vast desert. The expressions noticed by the traveller were those of frown and ignorant pride. It could well be understood that the ruler was tyrannous.

The poem conveys the message that man is mortal. He might be proud of his powers but the reality is far more cruel that everything comes to an end as the time keeps on moving and changing. Immortality is the fact concerned with views, time, poetry and goodness only. Thus, Shelley points out very well the power of time. He says that how much ever the emperor might be cruel and powerful in his own time, the race with time can never be won.

Finally, we cannot miss the general comment on human vanity in the poem. It is not just the “mighty” who desire to withstand time; it is common for people to seek immortality and to resist death and decay. Furthermore, the sculptor himself gets attention and praise that used to be deserved by the king, for all that Ozymandias achieved has now “decayed” into almost nothing, while the sculpture has lasted long enough to make it into poetry. In a way, the artist has become more powerful than the king. The only things that “survive” are the artist’s records of the king’s passion, carved into the stone.

Perhaps Shelley chose the medium of poetry in order to create something more powerful and lasting than what politics could achieve, all the while understanding that words too will eventually pass away. Unlike many of his poems, “Ozymandias” does not end on a note of hope. There is no extra stanza or concluding couplet to honour the fleeting joys of knowledge or to hope in human progress. Instead, the traveller has nothing more to say, and the persona draws no conclusions of his own.

It is advised that textual questions should be revised again and again for the perfect understanding of the poem. Poetic devices such as alliteration, synecdoche, etc. need to be focussed on for framing good answers to the questions.

We are also providing you with the thematic structure of the poem which will help you to remember the sequence of the ideas and happenings as presented in the poem. This will also help you to answer any question which may be framed from any part of the poem.


  • The Narrator: The narrator starts the poem with the introduction as to how the traveller had narrated his trip to the ancient land.
  • The Traveller: Two huge yet without the upper part of the body sculptures stood in the desert. Near them lay a shattered face, which had a frown and a wrinkled expression on his face. The face also held a hostile expression of cold command. The expression could be read very well on these lifeless things because of the sculptor’s artistry. On the pedestal appeared the words of the king himself. It read that his name was Ozymandias, king of kings, who commanded the forthcoming rulers to look up to him, and be saddened by the fact that they can never beat the glory he had achieved.
  • Ozymandias: I am Ozymandias, king of all kings: look upon my work and be despaired by my might, which you can never surpass.

We hope that by following the steps as mentioned in the article you will be able to tackle any level of question that may appear in your examination.

Wishing you all the best! 🙂

Add Comment Total Comments (24)

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  • 5. nandini  |  November 20th, 2012 at 8:45 pm

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  • 6. Navin  |  November 7th, 2012 at 5:34 am

    I have a summary.
    The narrator recalls his meeting with a traveller from an antique land who tells the narrator about the ruins of a statue in a desert. A statue of a king was standing trunkless in a desert, the face half-sunk in sand whose frown and sneer of old command indicates that the sculptor did an excellent job in interpreting his subject. The frown in the visage of the statue indicates that the ruler was tyrannous. On the pedestal appear the words “My name is Ozymandias,… and despair!” This words indicates the ignorant pride and great works of the ruler who could not survive against the power of time. Now nothing of his works remains but his trunkless statue in the middle of the desert in the lone and level sands which stretch till where the eyes can see.

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