Transience, Destruction, and Different Decide-Me-Uppers in “Ozymandias” and the Nice Gatsby

“Ozymandias,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, is a poem concerning the “colossal wreckage” that is still of what was as soon as a unbelievable empire. In the midst of a desert – we’re speaking sand, solar and extra sand – are the splintered stone legs and head of what was in all probability a fairly spectacular statue of Ramses II (or “Ozymandias” in Greek, which simply sounds a lot cooler). The inscription on the base reads: “My title is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Have a look at my works, thou Mighty One, and despair!” Which makes us giggle, since every part across the statue is totally empty for what looks as if a 50-mile radius. (SOME – one – LOST – are – EMMMM – PIRE!!!)

Including to the final feeling of loneliness is the truth that the poem is informed prior to now tense (which provides chronological distance) by an unnamed stranger (which creates narrative distance) a few distant place (which provides old style common distance). Are you able to hear the echo? Whereas we’re tempted to mock Ozy and his megalomania, we humbly understand whereas consuming generic model cereal in our pajamas that this man had a nation! Apart from a carbon footprint, how am I ever going to go away my mark on the world? (A plot to vary the lettering on Trump Tower is creating quickly…)

Now that you’ve got been thrown into some crippling existential funk (which might make a fantastic band title, by the way in which), let’s take into consideration the top of a more moderen period, just like the Roaring Twenties in an economically booming America. Any literary works come to thoughts? In all probability The Nice Gatsby, which, as you may discover, can be informed in third particular person afterwards a few distant place – socio-economically. There’s that echo once more. Like Ozymandias, Gatsby is set to attain greatness – however in his case it is as a result of he is magnetically drawn to a mysterious “single inexperienced mild, minute and much away.” Aliens? The 7-11?? An industrial bug killer?!? In all probability simply the sunshine of East Egg, the actually posh a part of Lengthy Island the place his disgustingly rich and completely unattainable highschool sweetheart lives.

Whereas Gatsby’s objective is not to construct an actual empire, he would possibly as properly be doing simply that, given the quantity of bother he finally ends up going by way of: he denies his household, adjustments his title, works underground as a booze smuggler for years, amass a fortune, takes on a brand new identification, buys an enormous mansion in an costly neighborhood, after which wastes his whole life throwing lavish events for rights holders – how do we are saying this? – morons, ALL to impress an old-fashioned woman who is not notably good at first. (And also you thought discovering your photograph in another person’s locker crossed a line.) Sadly for Gatsby, the cash runs out, the girlfriend saves, the person finds out, and Gatsby, properly, Gatsby will get shot. The top! Form of.

Like Ozymandias’s shattered monument, Gatsby symbolically leaves part of himself in that eerie inexperienced mild that streams throughout the bay, and whereas this remnant does little justice to what he as soon as was, it nonetheless underscores the vacancy of the encircling ethical wasteland . Go suck an egg, East Egg!

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