Percy Bysshe Shelley in his Ozymandias illustrates the vanity of human greatness and the failure of all attempts to immortalize human grandeur. Ozymandias was a great Egyptian king, a life-like statue of whom was made to immortalize him. But now the statue lies broken and disfigured, and all around it is a barren desert. Though he was hailed as a great king long back, it is ironical that his works which he boasted of once was now shattered into dust. His works have all disappeared including the whole civilization that was his credit. This is exactly what is meant by destructive power of history. Now what is left is just a ruined statue which is the remnant of the king symbolizing human beings' hubris and a most authoritative declaration of the irrelevance of human beings compared to the passage of time. Hence it is realized beyond doubt that the thematic concerns of this poem include, all great things decay in course of time, however great they are; the power of art prevails for long time compared to human achievements; and arrogance of humanity places human beings in an ethereal world which neither has life nor existence.
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The images used to explicate these thematic concerns are, no doubt, very appropriate and telling. We have the statue of the king to show that though the king has died, his statue exists. The poem itself stands for the everlasting nature of art, and at the same time preserves the statue too. The desert presented is a vast wasteland that is symbolic of things that are forgotten as time passes, however worthy it is.
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