Status and Reputation in Ozymandias and Kamikaze

March 11, 2019 by Essay Writer

Kamikaze, written by Beatrice Garland, is focused around the Japanese soldiers who self-sacrificed their lives during WW2, whilst flying missile planes into enemy ships. This act was perceived to be one of great bravery and honor, reflecting a strong sense of patriotism and importance of reputation. Contrastingly, Ozymandias, written by Percy Shelley, portrays the insignificance of reputation and legacy through expressing the power of nature. The poem is heavily influenced by Shelley`s radial political views, as well as the events of the French revolution in the 18th century, whereby the monarchy was overthrown. This subsequently urged Shelley to voice his hatred and disapproval towards autocracy through his poem, whilst also expressing the idea of romanticism and appreciation for nature.

Within Kamikaze, reputation is portrayed to be of great significance. This idea is established through the way in which the soldier`s family “treated him as though he no longer existed” and turned their back on him after he had essentially given up his reputation by failing to follow through with the mission. There is a conspicuous element of disappointment and shame which arose as a result of this, leading his family to feel as though “he was no longer the father they loved”. As a result of this, it is clear Garland intended to prove the enforced idea of importance of reputation through “powerful incantations” for the Japanese soldiers who were expected to give up their lives for their country. The use of the word “incantations” connotes to ideas of mystical conjurations, suggesting that the Kamikazes were almost under a spell of influential patriotic propaganda, leading them to believe that it was in fact their duty to establish and maintain such a reputation for themselves. Anything lesser or failure to do so was frowned upon by not only their family, but their country as well, of which we are able to recognize through the poem. This therefore establishes the idea of reputation and status to be a predominant element of the poem, as well as for the soldiers who were willing to give up their lives in consequence to their value and desire for reputation.

Contrastingly, Ozymandias presents the ideas of reputation and status to be of little importance. This is achieved through a strong sense of irony, whereby the autocratic and arrogant tyrant, who perceived himself to be the ultimate “King of kings”, was left to decay and disintegrate due to his legacy and reputation falling to nothing. This self-admiration demonstrated by Ozymandias is again portrayed through the use of the imperatives, “look on my words, ye mighty, and despair!”, whereby he was demanding the recognition and respect due to his arrogance. It is possible that by portraying the autocratic ruler in such way, Shelley aimed to enforce his anti-monarchist views upon the reader by creating such an unpleasant image of him. These feelings were also present among the sculptor who presented Ozymandias with a “frown and a wrinkled lip, and a sneer of a cold command”, suggesting others to have perceived him in the same way and therefore strengthening Shelley`s message. The idea of someone who withheld such significance and power simply being “shattered” and left to “decay” indicates to the reader that no reputation, whether good or bad, remains important, subsequently presenting an opposing idea of reputation to that within Kamikaze. The destruction of reputation presented though Ozymandias is enhanced further through the use of structure, whereby the narrator focuses on different elements of the statue in parts to build up its image, whereby it is then entirely broken down by nature, creating a similar accumulative effect to that within Kamikaze. This effect can be seen to create a powerful image of Ozymandias which falls to nothing, emphasizing the idea of destruction and insignificance of reputation. It is evident that Shelley would have purposefully used this irony and chosen to focus the idea of decay and insignificance of reputation around Ramesses II due to his strong hatred towards autocracy, being able to also suggest the possibility to overturn social and political power of which he desired at the time.

However, although both poems present opposing ideas regarding the importance and impact of reputation, it is evident they both incorporate the power of nature in order to break down and override reputation. Within Kamikaze, Garland presents beautiful images of nature, such as “a green-blue translucent sea”, of which is suggested by the daughter to have been the reason as to why the soldier abandoned his mission. This idea is again enforced through the use of sibilance within the words “shoals, fishes, belles, swivelled and sun”, reflecting the smooth movement of peaceful water, building upon the pleasant and comforting image of nature. Furthermore, through a prolonged description of the sea-creatures of “cloud-marked mackerel, black crabs, feathery prawns”, a cumulative effect is established and the reader is able to recognize the soldier`s appreciation and recognition of nature once again. As a result of the soldier`s appreciation for nature, he resulted in backing out of his mission which lead to the destruction of his reputation, proving it to have been inferior to the power of nature.

Similarly, the power of nature is presented within Ozymandias to again break down the idea of reputation. One way in which this is achieved is through the use of a semantic field of decay, involving words such as “shattered, sunk, lifeless, colossal wreck and decay”. It is conspicuous Shelley intended to emphasize the ability and power of nature by expressing the authority of Ozymandias, proving even such powerful bodies to be inferior to nature. This idea is again enforced though the juxtaposition between the decayed and solitude statue against the “far and wide” desert, continuing to suggest its insignificance as a result of nature`s power and greatness. In relation to structure, the poem concludes with a description of the “boundless and bare” desert, again contrasting to the insignificance of the statue proving it to essentially be worthless. It is possible such feelings and expressions towards Nature would have been presented as a result of Shelley`s profound appreciation towards nature, due to him being a romantic poet.

In relation to form, Ozymandias is written in a second-hand account, distancing the reader from the autocratic ruler. This was potentially done by Shelley to further increase feelings of dislike towards the autocratic tyrant, enabling him to enforce his own opinions and feelings upon the reader. In Kamikaze, Garland similarly establishes a sense of distance through the use of third person and reported speech, however in this instance, between the soldier and his daughter. The absence of the soldier`s voice enforces the idea of him being cut off from both his family and society as a result of his failure to carry out his mission, subsequently destroying his reputation. However in this instance, the reader is able to experience feelings of sympathy for the soldier due to being abandoned by his family, contrasting to the dislike that is provoked within Ozymandias though the use of form.

To conclude, it is evident that although Ozymandias and Kamikaze focus greatly on the ideas of reputation and status, both poems differ significantly in terms of the message being portrayed. Within Ozymandias, Shelley enforces the temporary and insignificant nature of reputation, whilst Kamikaze presents the contrasting idea of reputation being a fundamental element to the soldiers, to the point in which it has the ability to entirely determine the way the Kamikazes are treated and valued. However, both poems incorporate the power of nature in order to break down and dominate the idea of reputation, reflecting its significance over all other, proving to be a key similarity between the two poems.

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