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What was Shelley's purpose in writing "Ozymandias?" |

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Ozymandias, also known as Ramesses II, was an Egyptian Pharaoh. He was a powerful ruler and is still one of the most well-known Pharaohs today. Percy Shelley, in his poem, was reflecting on Egyptian monuments. The British people were extremely interested in learning about Egypt at this time, and many historical pieces were being imported to English museums.

Shelley's purpose for writing this poem was actually to win a contest. He and his friend Horace Smith agreed to participate in a sonnet-writing contest. They both chose the subject of Egypt and wrote their poems. Both sonnets eventually got published in newspapers, so both writers were fairly successful in their competition.

Though Shelley wrote his sonnet to win a contest, he has a clear message about fame in his poem. Through the life of Ozymandias, Shelley shows the brevity of life and fame. No person, even the great and mighty Ozymandias, is immortal. All eventually die; their fame dissipates. This is the sad message behind Shelley's sonnet.

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