Aristophanes Mocks The Women In His Plays

1251 words - 6 pages

To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Toni Yordanov
“Women at the Thesmophoria” is a comedy by the Greek playwright Aristophanes, including a wide mixture of real and invented characters and referring to other plays from the same time. In the main role is the tragedian Euripides, who is considered to denigrate the women and they want to kill him. Now his friend Mnesilochus sneaks at the Thesmophoria and tries to defend his friend, but the things become quite messy…
Indeed, this play represents the women in a quite unfavorable light. It seems that all they do at the festivals is to drink wine – that is proved by the conversation between Mica and Mnesilochus, when she asks ...view middle of the document...

The ways women are portrayed in the play creates the comic effect in all they do or are trying to do. The jokes on women expense usually concern their weakness for drink – when Mnesilochus steals Mica’s baby he finds out that it is actually wine. Probably Mica prefers to hug a bottle of good wine than a crying child. Bu there also other obstructive characters such as Crytilla, who stands on Euripides way and prevents Mnesilochus escape. But would women find this vision funny? Probably not, but the majority (or the whole) of the audience were men and they were Aristophanes’ target.
However, Aristophanes does not mock only women but also a wide range of other characters included in the play. The main aim seemsto be his competitors – Agathon and Euripides. The former takes part at the beginning and is described as effeminate, dressing and moving just like a woman. Another comic effect comes from his flowery way of speaking – he is using too many words to express a single thought. On the other side Euripides is not mocked but his plays such as “Helen”, “Andromeda” are. Dressed as Menelaus and later as Menelaus, Euripides tries to save his friend, who plays the roles of Helen and Andromeda. The comic comes from the strange circumstances, the parody of the real dialogue between them and the failed attempts to deceive anyone. Euripides’ plays are mocked by making them sound as comedies rather than tragedies and changing the original characters. For example, Menelaus wears rags – strange for such a great hero, while Perseus uses blunt comic language, but despite this the Scythian does not recognize the character from “Andromeda”. Here comes the next thing Aristophanes mocks – the foreigners. The Scythian speaks using vulgar language, short phrases, without any idea of proper grammar. All this shows the foreigners as stupid, sort of barbarians, people spoiling the Greek society and probably worth only as slaves. Moreover, the Scythian shows himself as a corruptible man, running after every nice girl he meets in this case the dancing girl at the end of the play. Another social group Aristophanes makes fun of is that of older people, represented by Mnesilochus. Some examples are the moment when he is shaved and singed; when he tries to deceive the women about his origin and family (“my husband is What’s-his-name”) or when hiding his phallus bending forward and backward. As a whole elder people are described as stupid, comic and vulgar (Mnesilochus uses words as “ragged” and “bugger”) making them to look as lower members of the society, worth mocking.
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