Play: The Clouds

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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 le...

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...ontrary, matures through avenging his father and is educated through renewing his confidence in himself and his actions. Strepsiades is educated through his failure to recognize the difference between what is morally correct and ethically incorrect. While Electra and Orestes acknowledge their imperfections and mistakes, Strepsiades refuses to acknowledge that his son’s unconventional behavior is a result of his failure to teach him to pursue truth rather than to allow greed and ego to cloud one’s judgment. For these reasons, Strepsiades fails to mature and is confined by his inability to absorb the education that Socrates and his son both offer him.

Works Cited
Aristophanes, and Jeff Henderson. Aristophanes' Clouds. Newburyport, MA: Focus Information Group, 1992. Print.
Euripides, Janet Lembke, and Kenneth J. Reckford. Electra. New York: Oxford UP, 1994. Print.
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