• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Death is a leveller. Discuss the statement in reference to Ozymandias and Death the Leveller.

Extracts from this document...


"Death is a leveller". Discuss the statement in reference to "Ozymandias" and "Death the Leveller". "Death is a leveller", this statement implies that death makes everyone equal or 'level'. In the poems, "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley and "Death the Leveller" by James Shirley, they each portray this in similar ways. Each refer to this statement by using the notion of a powerful figure, who would seem to be 'invincible', forgotten through time, hence forth, making them equal to people who would have achieved very little within their lifetime. In "Ozymandias", Percy Bysshe Shelley relates a description of a mysterious land laid to waste. The speaker recalls having met a traveller "from an antique land," who told him a story about the ruins of a statue in the desert of his native country. At the very beginning of the poem, Shelley creates a remote landscape, unknown by many therefore distancing the narration. The title "Ozymandias" refers to the great Egyptian King Rameses II. This unfamiliar name gives the impression to the reader that it will about someone anonymous though during his life, he would have been very influential on the world around him. "Half sunk, a shattered visage lies" denotes the face of the statue damaged and worn throughout time, metaphorically, like his power lost though time. ...read more.


Alliteration is used to create an effective rhythm within the last lines of the stanza. It creates a feeling of total certainty that this is how this statue, like Ozymandias' reputation, will stand until it is worn away to become another grain of sand. This poem was written in the age when Napoleon Bonaparte was at his height of power, but Shelley believed this would eventually been his fate. 'Death the Leveller' was written by James Shirley the time when King Charles was reined over England. In that time period, many people did not wish to have a king; therefore, King Charles was eventually beheaded. The purpose of the poem was a warning to the King, showing that he had no escape from death, even with his courage a huge army. Shirley begins "The glories of our blood and state are shadows, not substantial things" denotes that how no matter how important your blood is or how powerful you are in life, death will make you as meaningful as a shadow, forgotten and neglected. Shirley then states how there is "no armour against fate" meaning that death is something you cannot escape, regardless of who you are within life. Shirley also makes death human like by saying it lays its "icy hand on kings" "Sceptre and Crown Must tumble down" A sceptre is like a staff, which is held by a king and obviously a crown, which is a symbol of their high authority. ...read more.


as in the face of death, these achievements are worthless, levelling out those who reside on the street to those who rule over countries. "Upon Death's purple altar now" implies that death will place you where it wishes; in addition, the colour purple is related to royalty, which mocks his current status. "Your heads must come to the cold tomb" means that right there, right then, he is to die unavoidably at the cold hands of death. Shirley finishes, "Only the actions of the just smell sweet and blossom in their dust" denoting that if the King had perhaps stepped down, he would have lived longer and therefore, be remembered for longer. In each stanza, Shirley uses rhyming couplets e.g. "Early or late, they stoop to fate" which in literature, is recognized as the basic and decided truth. This associates back to death being a leveller as 'his' decision is final. In conclusion, "Ozymandias" and "Death the Leveller" each use death to illustrate that everyone, in time, no matter how mighty or great they may be, will eventually succumb to the sardonic natural process of death in their lives. Using powerful figures to support this view, they link how death and nature are corresponding and even those who are born great will surrender to it ultimately. This quality makes everyone and everything in life similar and making death a leveller. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Comparative Essays section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Comparative Essays essays

  1. The Story of A Lifetime

    very old, big warehouse To say I was shocked would be an under-statement. I was much more than just shocked, It started to get scary. I realized our bags were still in the jeep and all of these huge bulky men were in the room with us.

  2. In this essay I am going to compare the following poemsCrossing the Bar and ...

    widely understood by many people to be a journey and here Tennyson portrays death as a form of journey. Tennyson's religious attitude is again showed in the second stanza as he mentions: "When that drew out the boundless deep- turns again home" Here he is demonstrating God's power by showing that he created him and enriched him from nothing.

  1. The Colour Purple and Margeret Atwood

    grow to include more complex themes and insights, "I felt a little peculiar round the children." Later in the novel, the narrative shifts between letters written by Celie and letters written by Nettie. However, the letters from Nettie are still read through Celie's eyes.

  2. The Early Purges Vs Daffodils

    Then he dances as the daffodils are dancing which can be explained as the celebration of "Bliss of solitude". Seamus Heaney has grown in a farm in Ireland. He used to see violence everyday and more importantly it started to happen in his childhood when he was nothing but a little innocent child.

  1. Poetry Analysis: Death Approaching

    as if the person has already passed away, this again creates the mood of this poem. "Remember" is a sophisticated poem that's not easy to understand. Some parts rhyme but the rhyming scheme is inconsistent, making the rhythm choppy .

  2. "English poets are being forced to explore not just the matter of England, but ...

    The sparse description of the material surroundings shared by the absent Mr Bleaney and the poet reinforces the poverty of their comparative lives: "Flowered curtains, thin and frayed, / Fall to within five inches of the sill." The comfortless nature of the environment is extended to the general nature of existence.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work