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The imagery in Shelley’s Romantic poem, Ozymandias, is meant to paint a picture for the students as they read. Once they have read and analyzed the poem, an excellent assignment is to have students compare the image described in the poem with other images with which they may be more familiar.
Comparison to Other Statues
In class, have students look at pictures of Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, the Sphinx, the Lincoln Memorial, and the statue of Ho Chi Ming in Saigon. Show them from as many angles as possible and at different times of day. Once they students have looked at various examples of each of these images, have students choose two of the images listed above and research them briefly.
Then, as a class project, put students in groups based on which image they chose to research. Have the groups work together to create a short power point that provides the history of the images, the reasons they were created, and what they symbolize. Then, ask the groups to compose a short poem, which captures in some way, the image they have focused on.
Compare & Contrast Assignment
Finally, each student should write a five-paragraph essay, which compare and contrast their two selected images with the image of Ozymandias. How are they similar? In what ways do they differ? What do each of the images symbolize to society of years past and to society now?
This final writing assignment will allow you to assess not only their understanding of the poem, but also to see how well they are able to take one visage/image and compare it with another, using both imagery and historical information.
Use the downloadable worksheet to give the assignment and also download the literary analysis worksheet. You can use it as a quiz for after the poem is read, or you can have them work on it in groups to ensure understanding of the poem. It is a tool that works well both individually and with groups.
- Photo from Wikimedia Commons