Napoleon in front of the Sphinx.
Although the poem specifically exposes the futility of Ozymandias' tyranny, it transcends its subject matter, expressing a general aversion and criticism of all forms of absolutism. Shelley was a rebel, and his revolutionary ideology was heavily influenced by the turbulent social climate of his time. The French Revolution and Napoleon's oppressive persona sparked a questioning of the aristocracy, allowing an emphasis on the transient nature of tyrannical institutions. Surprisingly, despite being a 14-line sonnet, the poem deviates from standard sonnet convention in both form and rhyme scheme. Shelley's desire to vehemently challenge the established norm, both political and poetic, is reflected in this poetic strategy (Spacey, 2022).
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