The Clouds | Study Guide


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The Clouds | Character Analysis



Strepsiades's name means "Slippery" or "Twisty." He acts as a trickster, coming up with harebrained schemes to avoid paying his debts. His schemes lead him to take bad advice from Socrates and the Chorus (the Clouds), and his own son, Pheidippides, outwits and abuses him. Strepsiades functions as more of an antihero than a hero. His recognition at the end of the play is tragic and damaging rather than triumphant. Despite his financial irresponsibility, Strepsiades is portrayed as a pious and moral Athenian who reveres the gods.


Socrates in The Clouds takes pride in his unorthodox teaching methods. Unlike the real Socrates, he's amoral, concerned with profit just as much as with knowledge. He has a high opinion of himself and his abilities and frequently insults his student, Strepsiades. Like the real Socrates, he goes barefoot and believes he can communicate with divine voices.


Pheidippides is proud of his athleticism at the beginning of the play. He doesn't think much of higher education and mocks the students at the Thinkery. After Pheidippides is dragged to the Thinkery by his father, he becomes intellectual, pale, and pompous, treating his family with less respect. Pheidippides is based on an Athenian named Alcibiades, who was a handsome, selfish student of Socrates.


The Chorus honors the Greek gods, comments on the action of the play, and interacts with the main characters, like choruses in most Greek dramas. Since the Chorus of Clouds represents Sophist rhetoric and its emphasis on winning the argument, its members change their loyalties frequently, encouraging both Socrates and Strepsiades. The Chorus also speaks directly for the playwright in the Parabasis sections of the play.

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