Literary devices/diction/imagery/characters used in Aristophanes' The Wasps'?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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InThe Wasps,Aristophanes' use of figurative language and rich diction portray a man who from the very onset of the play is described as a "monster" with a serious "disease."  Aristophanes uses two figurative language devices:  hyperbole and metaphor.  The hyperbole is the obvious exaggeration that the father Philocleon has an extreme addiction to work (the court of law).  Comparing Philocleon's addiction to trial law as a "disease" is an extended metaphor, calling upon his many various bad behaviors (hoarding, poor hygiene) as symptoms. 

Many of the characters' exchanges use figurative language as they compare themselves to various animals.  Philocleon states:  "two of them are lying in wait for me at this very door armed with spits, just as folks lie in wait for a cat that has stolen a piece of meat."  In this quote, he compares himself to the cat; furthermore in the next line, he states:

The best way is to gnaw through the net. Oh! goddess who watchest over the nets, forgive me for making a hole in this one."

Philocleon's use of figurative language reveals he feels trapped in his circumstances, but prepared to set himself free by his own actions, forcefully if necessary. 

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