"The Birds" Analytical Essay by Research Group

"The Birds"
Examines human conditions in Greek playwright Aristophanes' "The Birds".
# 25708 | 2,655 words | 1 source | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on May 02, 2003 in English (Analysis) , Drama and Theater (Greek and Roman)

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Aristophanes' "The Birds" is a comedy, but it does make a number of philosophical statements about the human condition, particularly the inability of human beings to accept reality for what it is. The paper shows how almost every character in the play (not only human but also bird and god) is shown to be dissatisfied with his or her lot in life and seeks to create a better city or world. The world turns out not to be better, but worse than the reality each seeks to escape. The paper shows that while Aristophanes, from his satirical perspective, may handle some characters more tenderly than others, all are skewered in one way or another as deluded or self-deluded, as alienated from reality. No character is happy and contented with his or her lot, but instead believes that there is some way to control others or otherwise exercise power in order to win that elusive happiness.

From the Paper:

"However, the play is not overtly political, and the argument of this study remains philosophical rather than political, social, or even ethical. This is so because Aristophanes, at least in this particular play, seems to this reader to be focusing more on the human proclivity to self-centered dissatisfaction with reality in general rather than with the blatantly political. Certainly the subject of trying to create a utopia on earth is present, and that may certainly be said to be political, but, again, the goal of this study is to explore the theme of human restlessness in general, with the tendency of individuals at every point in history and in almost every culture to be unhappy with what they have and to seek something that they don't have and likely will never have. In fact, it can be argued their inability or unwillingness to be satisfied with reality (personal, social, psychological, and political) is the source of their happiness."

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