Percy Shelley: Poems

“Nought may endure but Mutability:” Examining Shelley’s Opinions on Change College

Throughout several of his poems, Percy Bysshe Shelley celebrates mutability and takes comfort in the fact that change is inevitable. In “Mutability,” Shelley suggests that constant change is positive because it means that no ill feeling can ever last too long. While one cannot be certain about most things, one can depend on the inevitability of change and hope that the change will bring good. In “Ozymandias” and “England 1918,” Shelley takes comfort in the fact that change is unavoidable because it ensures that tyrants cannot hold onto their power forever. It does not matter how horrible they are — all tyrants eventually fall into the annals of history. However, while Shelley appears to accept that change is inevitable, he rejects those who change their opinions. In “To Wordsworth,” Shelley suggests that because Wordsworth changes his character and his values, he ceases to exist. Ironically, even though Shelley claims to know that change is inevitable, when it comes to changing one’s beliefs or opinions, he considers that person to no longer exist. Furthermore, while Shelley takes comfort in change, he is not prepared to actively create it. In “The Mask of Anarchy,” Shelley advocates for a passive resistance, essentially...

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