Transience, Destruction, and Other Select-Me-Uppers in “Ozymandias” and the Excellent Gatsby

“Ozymandias,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, is a poem about the “colossal wreck” left above from what used to be a great empire. In the middle of a desert – we’re chatting sand, sunshine, and then far more sand – are the shattered stone legs and head of what in all probability used to be a pretty spectacular statue of Rameses II (or “Ozymandias” in Greek, which just appears way cooler). The inscription at the base reads, “My identify is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Appear on my functions, ye Mighty, and despair!” Which makes us giggle, considering the fact that every little thing close to the statue is absolutely empty for what appears like a fifty-mile radius. (SOME – just one – Shed – his – EMMMM – PIRE!!!)

Incorporating to the overall sensation of solitude is the simple fact that the poem is advised in the previous tense (which provides chronological length) by an unnamed stranger (which provides narrative length) about a faraway location (which provides good ol’ fashioned normal length). Can you hear the echo? Though we’re tempted to scoff at Ozy and his delusions of grandeur, what we humblingly realize as we sit in our pajamas consuming generic-manufacturer cereal is that hey, this guy had a nation! Apart from a carbon footprint, how am I at any time intended to make my mark on the earth? (A plot to transform the lettering on the Trump Tower rapidly develops…)

Now that you’ve got been thrown into a crippling existential funk (which would make a fantastic band identify, by the way), let’s imagine about the close of a far more new age, like the Roaring Twenties in an economically-booming The usa. Any literary functions come to intellect? Possibly The Excellent Gatsby, which, as you’ll see, also takes place to be advised retrospectively in the third particular person about a faraway location – socio-economically speaking. You will find that echo yet again. Like Ozymandias, Gatsby is decided to accomplish greatness – even though in his case, it’s simply because he’s magnetically drawn to a mysterious “one inexperienced gentle, moment and much absent.” Aliens? The seven-11?? An industrial-strength insect zapper?!? Possibly just the gentle from East Egg, the definitely posh portion of Very long Island where his disgustingly wealthy and utterly unattainable higher-faculty sweetheart life.

When Gatsby’s goal is not to make an real empire, he might as well have, looking at the quantity of trouble he ends up heading as a result of: he denies his household, modifications his identify, spends years doing the job underground as a bootlegger, amasses a fortune, assumes a new identification, buys a huge mansion in an high-priced community, and then proceeds to squander his entire life personal savings on lavish parties for entitled – how do we place this? – morons, ALL to impress an aged higher-faculty fling who just isn’t especially pleasant to commence with. (And you imagined acquiring your photograph in a person else’s locker crossed a line.) Regretably for Gatsby, the income runs out, the girlfriend bails out, the spouse finds out, and Gatsby, well, Gatsby gets shot. The close! Sort of.

Much like Ozymandias’s shattered monument, Gatsby symbolically leaves a portion of himself at the rear of in that eerie inexperienced gentle streaming out above the bay, and while this remnant does minimal justice to what he after was, it even so underscores the emptiness of the surrounding moral wasteland. Go suck an egg, East Egg!

Supply by Paul Thomson

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