Comparing The Simpsons And Aristophanes' Clouds

1937 words - 8 pages

Tomorrow on the Simpsons, Homer will discover that Bart has stolen his credit card and charged $10,000 worth of "Itchy and Scratchy" merchandise. Having no hope for paying off this debt, Homer decides to go to law school because he cannot afford to hire a bankruptcy lawyer. The famous lawyer, who teaches classes, sends a crestfallen Homer home to retrieve his son, for Homer is much too thick-headed to possibly learn the ways of the courts. As Bart graduates from law school, he uses his newfound skills of argument to convince the courts that his parents are insane, his sister Lisa deserves to be in a boarding school, and he should be able to put his youngest sister up for adoption. Unable to see another way, Homer tears down the walls of the Springfield Law School, attacking the famous lawyer for ruining his life. On many levels, this is a typical episode of The Simpsons, one I am sure any Simpson's fan would enjoy. The only problem is this is not an episode of The Simpsons, and it will not be airing tomorrow. This synopsis did not come from the TV Guide, rather it is an updated version of Aristophanes' famous comedy, Clouds. Though it may come as a surprise, many of the elements of America's favorite cartoon are actually the same elements used by Aristophanes many centuries ago in his comedic drama, Clouds.

There are many similarities between the main characters of Aristophanes' Clouds and the modern television favorite The Simpsons. The first comparison to be made is between the father figures Strepsiades and Homer Simpson. Though separated by centuries of changes, Strepsiades and Homer share a surprising number of basic character traits. First, they share a lack of intellectual strength; put simply, both characters are incredibly stupid. Strepsiades demonstrates this through his inability to learn as seen in his visits to the Pondertorium: "SOCRATES: This is preposterous![…]You'll get no more instruction from me" (Clouds 783). Homer Simpson certainly presents similar stupidity, so frequently that it has been a running gag for 12 years now. An example from the third Season follows: "HOMER: Fine! I'll never, ever, ever do another stupid thing! Good night! [angrily turns to leave and walks face first into the side of a truck]" (Vitti). Any modern Simpson's fan can easily see in their mind's eye Homer Simpson cast in the role of Strepsiades.

Homer Simpson and Strepsiades also have in common grand schemes, which nearly always backfire. Strepsiades' plan to have his son learn the inferior argument clearly backfires as his son uses the argument against his father. Homer's plans backfire as well. An example of this is the episode entitled "Lisa's Rival" from the sixth season, in which Homer plans to sell stolen sugar door to door. After quitting his job, he soon discovers that the open space of the backyard is not a good place for storage, as a combination of bees and rain destroy his surplus (Scully). And so the parallels continue.

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