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Play: The Clouds Essay

1237 words - 5 pages

In Clouds and Electra, Aristophanes and Euripides distinguish the evolution of maturity in Strepsiades, Orestes and Electra through each character’s response to preexisting misfortunes and the methods by which they acquire their education. While intertwining suffering and maturity develops each of these characters, not each character receives their education by means of suffering. Strepsiades receives his education through repeatedly failing to escape debts, Orestes receives his education by killing his father’s murderer and Electra acquires her education through continuous suffering.
Strepsiades embodies the distinction between receiving an education and learning from an education. In pursuit of eliminating his debt to others, Strepsiades approaches Socrates with a “yearn to learn” oratory (Clouds i.183). But, as Socrates proceeds with teaching Strepsiades the foundations of sophistry, Strepsiades clarifies that he has “two kinds [of memory]: if someone owes me money, it’s very good; but if it’s me that owes, it’s awful bad” (Clouds iv.484-486). In clarifying that his memory is selective, Strepsiades alludes to his inability to distinguish between what is morally proper and ethically inappropriate. Similar to his selective memory, Strepsiades chooses to accept the concept of “god” as Socrates suggests and later, in an argument with his son, he exclaims, “damn, I must have been insane, to drop the gods because of Socrates” (Clouds xiii.1476-1478). Strepsiades applies this practice with choosing arguments as well. For instance, when Socrates asks Strepsiades whether he would like to learn “measures, or diction, or rhythm”, Strepsiades responds, “I don’t want to learn that stuff” (Clouds v. 636-638, 656). Rather, he wants to learn the Worse Argument in order to convince the jury to nullify any financial lawsuits against him. But, unlike previous cases, Strepsiades is unable to escape from facing consequences for placing his selfish greedy pursuits over what is morally right. The Chorus Leader informs Strepsiades “every time we see a man who has fallen in love with what is wrong, we cast him down in sheer calamity” (Clouds xiii.1458-1460). Socrates repeatedly attempts to teach Strepsiades to grasp the basic skills necessary to argue, but Strepsiades effortlessly refrains from thinking. Instead of absorbing an education, Strepsiades forces his son to pursue what he could not himself do and later falsely claims that, “I’m entitled to something for educating him” (Clouds xi. 1231). In each of these cases, Strepsiades attempts to shape reality into what he wants reality to be, ultimately avoiding any responsibility whatsoever. Even if his motive remains consistent in every scenario, his neglect towards his son’s education, his own education, and his impaired judgment contribute to his failure to successfully learn from Socrates teachings.
In Electra, Orestes receives his education by killing his father’s murderer. By nature, Orestes presents...

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