AQA poetry

Comparing ‘Tissue’ to ‘Ozymandias’

Ozium means “‘breath” or “air”, and mandate means “to rule”. Ozymandias means to breathe is to rule.

Firstly, here is an example response provided by AQA and what makes it successful:

Explore how Shelley presents ideas about power in ‘Ozymandias’ and one other poem from the Power and Conflict anthology.

Both ‘Ozymandias’ and ‘My Last Duchess’ show the effects of power and how it corrupts. Shelley describes Ozymandias’ ‘sneer of cold command’ as if to suggest that he is a cruel and heartless leader, only concerned with his own power and the immortality it will bring. The Duke in ‘My Last Duchess’ is similarly concerned with his own power and status. Although the monologue is supposed to replicate a conversation, there is no opportunity for his listener to speak – Browning writes the monologue to show the Duke’s self-obsession and that he is not interested in anyone’s views other than his own.

Ozymandias might have had ‘cold command’ of his ‘lands’, just like the Duke ‘gave commands’. Both poets are concerned with the effects of power and how in the wrong hands it corrupts.  The Duke is shown to be misguided as Browning uses imagery to hint at the Duchess’ kindness and gentle spirit (white pony) to prove that she is innocent and has been killed for nothing.  Ozymandias is shown to also be cruel: ‘sneer of cold command’ – however he has been left with nothing: ‘the lone and level sands stretch far away’. It could be argued that the Duke has also been left with nothing:  he has a statue of ‘Neptune’ which is made of cold bronze. He doesn’t realise this himself however, as he cares nothing for human relationships and is far more concerned, like Ozymandias, with his pride and reputation.

Ultimately both leaders are shown by the poets to be corrupt. Both poets feel that power in the wrong hands has devastating consequences on the innocent. However, although both poets show that this corruption is punished in the end, perhaps it is the Duke who is shown more clearly to be the true despot as Browning uses the dramatic monologue to show first-hand how completely self-absorbed he is.

  • Begins with a clear statement that answers the question
  • Uses mini quotations AND references to the text
  • Makes comments on both poems in one paragraph
  • Uses thoughtful vocabulary to describe the meanings (self-obsession, cruel, heartless, immortality)
  • Moves through both poems clearly
  • Uses compare words like ‘both’ and ‘similarly’
  • Makes reference to language, form and structure with words like ‘imagery’ and ‘monologue’ and ‘conversation’
  • Underpins all comments to the theme in the question: power

Now, the dreaded ‘Tissue’ and ‘Ozymandias’.

AQAS (2)

Explore how Dharker presents power in ‘Tissue’ and one other poem from the Power and Conflict anthology.

Both ‘Tissue’ and ‘Ozymandias’ show the power of time and how nothing can defy it. Dharker uses an extended metaphor to convey the transient and fleeting nature of human life. She considers the idea that buildings, built to withstand time, are instead made of paper or ‘living tissue’ and even ‘skin’. By conveying something we associate with solidity and power to something fragile reflects how even the sturdiest of things over time will wither and erode. Similarly, in ‘Ozymandias’, Shelley immediately reminds the reader of the power of time by referring to the ‘antique land’ which conjures images of ruinous cities overcome by nature. His use of a semantic field of deterioration again echoes a sense of loss over time; words like ‘shattered’, ‘sunk’ and ‘trunkless’ not only reflect the physical destruction of the once powerful Ramesses, but the loss of a time and a place that will never exist again and only its shadow will remain.

Dharker considers the significant role that paper plays in our lives, how it is ‘stroked’ and turned ‘transparent with attention’; she wonders why we use it to record information that will be useless as time moves forward. The lack of rhyme presents a tone and mood that seems to ‘drift’ like the paper buildings she describes. This unsteady structure is perhaps reflected in her own life and personal relationships; she wishes the reader to appreciate the light and life they have around them rather than focus on making a permanent mark, as with time, this will be fruitless. It could be argued that Shelley conveys a similar message in ‘Ozymandias’, however it appears more reflective than enlightening. ‘Ozymandias’, ‘King of Kings’, is written as a sonnet; Shelley has articulated the ruinous destruction of the vain and self-obsessed ruler, through the form of a traditional love poem to remind us of the love Ozymandias had for himself above all others. This love was not powerful enough to defy time, even though he built his statues from stone.

In conclusion, both poets present time as all powerful and unrelenting in its will. Dharker questions the human obsession with permanence and considers a world made of paper where ‘light’ and hope might shine more freely, whereas Shelley reveals the fate of a man’s legacy who could not escape his own narcissistic belief that he could prevail over time.

aqqa (2)

1 comment on “Comparing ‘Tissue’ to ‘Ozymandias’

  1. Pingback: Poetry Links – GCSE English Revision

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