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by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias Theme of Man and the Natural World

"Ozymandias" describes a statue, and statues are made from rocks and stones found in nature. While the poem explores the way in which art necessarily involves some kind of engagement with the natural world, it also thinks about how nature might fight back. The statue's head is half-buried in the sand, after all, and we are left wondering what role the erosive force of dust storms, wind, and rain played in its destruction.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Does all art necessarily use materials from nature, like rocks, stones, and paper?
  2. Besides getting its raw materials (paper, rocks, stones) from nature, in what other ways does art interact with the natural world?
  3. Do you feel that nature is punishing Ozymandias for his pride by destroying his statue? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

"Ozymandias" suggests that the relationship between art and nature is a double-edged sword: while the natural world furnishes the artist with raw materials, it also has the power to reclaim those materials by later destroying the work of art.

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