As the play begins . . . Strepsiades finds his son drunk–again–and laments the debts that have come from Pheidippides’ gambling and expensive habits. He resolves to send Pheidippides to the “Pondertorium”–the amazing school where they teach young men how to make the inferior argument win. Pheidippides refuses, so Strepsiades decides to enroll himself so that he can talk his way out of his debts.
A student at the Pondertorium introduces Strepsiades to some of its pedagogical techniques, and Socrates himself begins Strepsiades’ new education. The first revelation? That the true gods are not Zeus and his bunch, but rather the Clouds, goddesses who soon introduce themselves.
Strepsiades turns out to be not *quite* the star student at the Pondertorium. After he gets kicked out, he finally manages–with the help of his new-found wisdom and some practiced debaters–to convince Pheidippides to attend.
The plan works . . . and then backfires on Strepsiades and the Pondertorium.