The Clouds Plot Analysis | Shmoop (2023)

Exposition (Initial Situation)

Less Money, Mo' Problems

An Athenian dude named Strepsiades is upset because he's managed to go waaaay into debt financing his son's love of the ponies (racing them, that is). Now he's got creditors "racing" after him to get their cash back, and Strepsiades doesn't have it. So, it seems he needs to come up with a plan.

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

Knowledge is Power?

Strepsiades decides that the best course is to argue his way out of the debts (hmm, perhaps he's been watching Clueless?). How, you might ask? Well, apparently a dude named Socrates (yeah, that Socrates) runs a place called the Thinkery that teaches people how to argue well. He wants to send Pheidippides to the school so he can argue the family out of their debts. However, Pheidippides isn't willing (at least initially), so Strepsiades goes instead…

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

Nope, Wonky Logic is Power

Strepsiades turns out to be a pretty poor pupil, especially in terms of memory, and Socrates basically tears his hair out trying to figure out how to teach him anything. Eventually, Socrates gives up and resigns, and Strepsiades is finally able to recruit his son to go and do the learnin' instead.

Pheidippides turns out to be a great student, and soon he's arguing circles around everyone. Of course, in order to argue your way out of debts that you knowingly took on, someone would have to use a pretty twisted or evil kind of logic, right? Sure enough, Pheidippides becomes an expert in something called the "Worse Argument," which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about that. While all of this is going on, the "Clouds"—which are basically like gods—are watching and weighing in… and they don't really approve. Uh oh.

Falling Action

You Wouldn't Know Logic if it Hit You Over the Head…

As both the Clouds and Pheidippides predicted, Strepsiades comes to regret that he sent his son to that fancy logic school—regret it big time. Pheidippides has become so skilled in the Worse Argument that he uses it to justify beating his own father. After that incident, Strepsiades realizes that his scheme was a bad idea and regrets ever plotting to get out of paying his debts.

Resolution (Denouement)

Burning Down the (Logic) House

Strepsiades decides that he should get revenge on Socrates and others at the Thinkery for exposing him and his son to the wonky "Worse Argument" logic that makes wrong things right. So, he sets that structure on fire, and encourages Socrates and his posse to scoot if they don't want to die in the fire and smoke.


What is the plot of the clouds? ›

Clouds centers on the character of Strepsiades and his ill-conceived attempt to learn sophistry, or fallacious arguments, from Socrates so that he can avoid paying his debts. The play explores the themes of Old Versus New Values, The Importance of Education, and The Relationship Between the Gods and Morality.

What is the message of the clouds? ›

The Clouds is also a play that concerns itself thematically with issues of the gods, religion, and religious piety. One of the principle lessons that the over-eager pupil Strepsiades learns from the sophist-master Socrates is that the gods do not exist.

What do the clouds represent in the clouds by Aristophanes? ›

The Clouds lend the satire their name because they represent, to Athenian idiom, what we today would call "hot air": The Clouds are symbols of the intellectual fluff that Socrates is teaching his students.

What happens at the end of the clouds Aristophanes? ›

Strepsiades concedes that he has been wrong but still hungers to do violence against Socrates and the school. He summons his slave Xanthias and the two run over to the school and set fire to the roof. Chaerephon and a Second Student cry out from within as the building burns and finally rush outside.

How does water end up in the clouds? ›

Energy from the sun causes water on the surface to evaporate into water vapor – a gas. This invisible vapor rises into the atmosphere, where the air is colder, and condenses into clouds. Air currents move these clouds all around the earth.

How does the play the clouds end? ›

Strepsiades claims that he is attacking the school as an agent of revenge on behalf of the slighted gods. He kicks Socrates and drives-off the rest of the people by pelting them with a flurry of stones. The Chorus approves the scene and its performance and then exits, ending the play.

What is the simple explanation of clouds? ›

Clouds form when the invisible water vapor in the air condenses into visible water droplets or ice crystals. For this to happen, the parcel of air must be saturated, i.e. unable to hold all the water it contains in vapor form, so it starts to condense into a liquid or solid form.

Is clouds a comedy or tragedy? ›

Clouds, Greek Nephelai, comedy by Aristophanes, produced in 423 bce. The play attacks “modern” education and morals as imparted and taught by the radical intellectuals known as the Sophists.

What lesson do we learn from cloud? ›

Laying and watching the clouds teaches us to slow down and live in the moment. This is an important skill for children to learn. It helps to stay connected to yourself and be not just in touch with your emotions, but also in control of them. Patience takes practice, and watching clouds is a great way to practice.

What does Socrates teach in The Clouds? ›

Socrates is more into science than religion. In fact, one of the first things he teaches Strepsiades is that the gods he's gone around believing in for all these years don't exist. When Strepsiades asks Socrates if he is honestly denying that someone like Zeus is a god, Socrates is adamant: "Zeus, you say?

What does in The Clouds mean metaphor? ›

Be absentminded or impractical, as in She must have had her head in the clouds when she made the reservations, because they never heard of us, or He'll never be able to run the business—he's always got his head in the clouds.

What is the philosophy of clouds? ›

Clouds are harbingers of change. They allow for reactions to occur and they change their local environments greatly. In a cosmic setting, dust clouds allow for the creation of stars.

What happened when the narrator was inside The Clouds? ›

The narrator was totally frightened when he entered inside the clouds. His aeroplane started shivering in the dark storm clouds. He tried to contact the Paris Control but got no reply. All instruments of his aeroplane stopped working due to bad weather conditions.

Why did The Clouds cry? ›

to why do clouds cry? its because they watch us suffer, from up in the sky.

Who is the killer in the death in The Clouds? ›

Giselle's killer was Norman Gale, who sought her fortune. The murder was carefully planned: Gale had brought his dentist's coat on the flight, which he changed into after some time to pose as a steward, knowing no-one would pay attention to such a person.

Who is the killer in the death in the clouds? ›

Giselle's killer was Norman Gale, who sought her fortune. The murder was carefully planned: Gale had brought his dentist's coat on the flight, which he changed into after some time to pose as a steward, knowing no-one would pay attention to such a person.

What does the boy want to know about clouds? ›

He is eager to know how the clouds are made and why they cross across the sky. The little boy can't understand why the sun sinks behind the hills and why the flowers die.

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