How the Poem Ozymandias Highlights the Fundamental Issue in the Film Watchmen
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Percy Shelley, “Ozymandias”
This is a profound statement ascribed to one of the most powerful pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Yet, as Percy Shelly writes, the “works,” due to the sands of time, have vanished – “of that colossal wreck… the long and level sands stretch far away” (13-14). At his zenith, Ozymandias believed his empire was timeless and would inspire “despair” in all those who labored to match his accomplishments. But the monuments, his self-praising idols, and, in sum, his empire have all but eroded away. In such a way, Ozymandias emphasizes the frailty of mankind in the thread of measureless time. It’s not happenstance that one of the main characters in the movie Watchmen refers to himself as Ozymandias. Adrian Alexander Viedt, the smartest and one of the most powerful individuals on Earth, is a contemporary version of the Egyptian king. Though, Adrian Viedt masterfully averted the looming nuclear war and created his utopia in the movie, his feats are concealed to the public just as Ozymandias’s vast empire has been forgotten in the modern world. An awareness of the poem “Ozymandias” aids the viewer in analyzing the fundamental issue – the pervasive fallacy of power and divinity - in the film Watchmen.
The unusual structure of the poem aids viewers in analyzing how Watchmen migrates towards its utopian themes. The poem corresponds to the film’s cultural context of the Cold War in the Eighties as it is unlike a typical Petrarchan, Spenserian, or Shakespearean sonnet. First, this poem is in pentameter and not the normal iambic pentameter found in Shakespearean derived sonnets. The majority of sonnets contain five iambs in a line which begins with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. However this poem re...
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...on the poem and the film, literature and not mankind will endure the destructive power of history. This truly signifies the pervasive power of fallacy and divinity.
The poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, illuminates several key issues in the film Watchmen. Mankind’s struggle for power is fruitless since the passing of time will erode any accomplishment. The poem exposes the myth of immortality which is represented in the shattered statue of Ozymandias. The structure, form, and tone of the poem helps the viewer of Watchman understand that even heroes are mortals and only the passing of history can expose this truth. The achievements of civilization, as perceived by both Percy Shelley and the filmmakers of Watchmen, cannot be set in stone.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “Ozymandias.” PoemHunter.Com. Web. 18 March 2014.