People live life wanting everything they can't afford. Millions of Americans idealize famous movie actors and musicians, and wish to aspire to that degree of wealth. Many people are envious of such billionaires as Bill Gates, and tell themselves they could have done that. Everyone wants to be rich. They feel that if they had all the money they wanted, they could truly be happy. The truth is that money and riches really don't bring anyone an unsurpassable or measureless amount of happiness.
For example, winners of the Powerball lottery game may seem to have found happiness, but on a recent Oprah show they told of their extreme depression, and even the debt that money cost them. In fact, being rich or powerful brings just the opposite of happiness. It brings depression, and a legacy of nothingness. One example of this is seen in Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ozymandias. A traveler was talking with the speaker of the poem, and describing his recent journey to "[... ] an antique land." (1) 1 The traveler tells of a statue, erected for the King 2.
But now, that statue is "[... ] half sunk, a shattered visage lies [... ]." (4) Clearly, the King the statue was created for no longer reigns, neither here on earth nor in human minds. In Shelley's poem, the traveler describes the characteristics of the King very well, and implies his unhappiness. "[...
] whose frown, /and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command [... ]" (4-5) could only be attributes of a deeply unhappy man. Even power over slaves did not delight him. "[... ] The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed [... ]" (8) on the toils of the slaves did not bring him joy.
The King may have been powerful, but that power evidently did not bring him pleasure. Perhaps the greatest proof that riches and power did not bring the King immense happiness is his decrepit statue. His message to the world is ironic in itself. "[... ] Look on my works, Ye mighty, and despair! /Nothing beside remains [... ]." (11-12) Perhaps Ozymandias' can be taken two ways.
One way could be a threat to anyone who dares to claim themselves the "[... ] king of kings [... ]." (10) Ozymandias perhaps was stating to those men 'Look at my success. No one can ever surpass this success!" The irony is that Ozymandias's success is now nothing. Nothing remains but his words. The face of his statue is broken, just like his legacy.
Or perhaps Ozymandias's tate ment is one everyone should head. Perhaps he is saying, 'Look at what my success has become: nothing. Despair mortals, for earthly success is always nothingness.' Ozymandias' message could be the moral for his story. Because only his words remain, and nothing but, people should take in his advice. Power and prestige does not equate fame or prosperity. Another important example of how earthly riches bring nothing is in Thomas Hardy's The Convergence of the Twain 3.
Because he starts his poem with "Lines on the Loss of the Titanic[... ]" (1) 4, it immediately tells the reader what to expect. His firsts stanza tells of the ship now, how it sits calmly at the bottom of the ocean, "[... ] deep from human vanity[...
]." (3) He implies that the only escape from power and riches is by lying unnoticed at the bottom of the ocean. Throughout the poem, Hardy goes back and forth between the materialistic, high-class society that boarded the ship and those that house themselves there now. "Over the mirrors meant/To glass the opulent/The sea-worm crawls [... ]" (8-10) is one example of this. The mirrors, once golden and glowing with the faces of rich, beautiful men and women, now reflect the ugliness of the undersea world. Even the ornate jewelry that this society adorned themselves with have become nothing more than homes for sea algae.
"Jewels in joy designed / to ravish [... ] lie lightless, all their sparkle bleared and black and blind." (11-13) Those jewels are no longer the shining, glimmering trimmings of a wealthy society. They now are blurry, blackened spheres of a time long passed. Hardy prepares for us a rhetorical question, and one that proves to be the most important line of the entire piece: "'What does this vaingloriousness down here?' " (16) It is the most intriguing question, and one that nobody rarely asks. Again, the Titanic itself was a monstrosity of wealth.
It was the Unsinkable ship. It had a beautiful ballroom, and luxurious dining room, ornate furniture and decorations. But unfortunately, it sunk. So what good did all of that gloriousness achieve? Nothing. The Titanic will be remembered not for its beauty and riches, but for its tragedy. The third and final poem that exhibits this theme is Edwin Arlington Robinson's Richard Cory.
The speaker of this poem is perhaps a common man, of the working class, someone who is not so well off. But he speaks sort of kindly and jealously of Richard Cory. "And he was always quietly arrayed, /and he was always human when he talked [... ]" (5-6) 5 could imply several things. One perhaps is that Richard Cory was not exactly very rich.
Perhaps he was of the same class, but had acquired some wealth and had spent it on clothing that would give him the appearance of being rich. Or, perhaps, Richard Cory was indeed wealthy, but didn't like to or want to show off. Line six could describe how Richard was not a very arrogant man, how he was, in fact, human. Because of this, the townsfolk admired him, and wished to be just like him. The most powerful lines of this poem are the final two. "And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, /Went home and put a bullet through his head." (15-16) This is the epitome of the message.
Money truly can't buy happiness. If Richard Cory had been a happy man, he would have had no need to take his life. Unfortunately, his success only led him deeper into his depression. Many wanted to be just like him, only seeing his wealth and not the man behind it. Perhaps Richard Cory took his life in an attempt to prove that his wealth and success did not bring him happiness. Perhaps he did so for the townsfolk, so they could see how low money, riches, and wealth can bring a man.
People will constantly wish to be richer and wealthier than they are. Everyone loves money, and wants more of it. Unfortunately, money will not make their lives happier or easier. Money, power, wealth, and earthly riches are nothing compared to the happiness one can receive from a smile, a laugh, or a joke. Happiness cannot be measured in dollars or cents, but in friends and family. For those that feel money and power will make them happy, they will find out the hard way that it is quite the opposite.
What good is earthly success after they die? Nothing will remain but their memory, their words. Their riches and power will be soon forgotten. Notes 1 Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ozymandias," An Introduction to Literature, eds. Sylvan Barnet et al. , 13 th ed. (New York: Pearson, 2004) 737.
Line references to the poem will be given parenthetically throughout the paper. 2 Ozymandias is the Greek translation of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II. 3 Convergence means a meeting place, twain means two. 4 Thomas Hardy, "The Convergence of the Twain," An Introduction to Literature, eds. Sylvan Barnet et al. , 13 th ed.
(New York: Pearson, 2004) 932-33. Line references to the poem will be given parenthetically throughout the paper. 5 Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Richard Cory," An Introduction to Literature, eds. Sylvan Barnet et al. , 13 th ed.
(New York: Pearson, 2004) 934. Line references to the poem will be given parenthetically throughout the paper. Works Cited Hardy, Thomas. "The Convergence of the Twain." An Introduction to Literature. Eds.
Sylvan Barnet et al... 13 th ed. New York: Pearson, 2004. 932-33. Robinson, Edwin Arlington. "Richard Cory." An Introduction to Literature.
Eds. Sylvan Barnet et al... 13 th ed. New York: Pearson, 2004.
934. Shelley, Percy Bysshe. "Ozymandias." An Introduction to Literature. Eds.
Sylvan Barnet et al... 13 th ed. New York: Pearson, 2004. 737.