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The Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”

The Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” shows an extended metaphor, contrasting the way people perceive and believe in what is considered to be real. The thesis is that the main perceived tenets are the reflections of the ultimate Forms that finally represent truth and reality. The author shows a cave where prisoners are chained down and besides, they made look upon the front wall of the cave. I would like to mention that this story features two important elements. The first element is the prisoners’ fictional metaphor and the second element is the philosophical tenets in which story is supposed to represent, hence, we see the allegory itself. So, at the very beginning we can see the multi-faceted meanings when the prisoners are chained within the darkness of the cave. Bound to the floor, the prisoners can’t turn their heads, so they don’t see what happens behind them. Meanwhile, the puppeteers are casting the shadows on the wall in which the prisoners view the reality. We see the passage told not by the prisoners, it is a conversation between Socrates and Glaucon (Plato’s brother). Socrates describes the cave and then the prisoners’ situation, showing that the prisoners would be mistaken in perceiving the reality. Thus, the readers know that the puppeteers have wooden and iron objects so that the shadows seem to be real to the items and people. As a result, being unable to turn their heads, the prisoners wouldn’t know anything else apart from the shadows, and believe that it is their own reality.

As for me, I think that this story development shows us that sometimes the thing may be seen in one way but in fact it may be absolutely different. That’s why, things that are regarded as real from birth may be totally false founded on the people’s imperfect interpretations of reality.

However, the general idea is far of the allegory, meaning that the language’s general terms are not “names” of the physical objects that can be seen.

Hence, there are names of things not visible to us but they can be grasped with the mind. Plato describes this line of thinking as “imagination”.

If the prisoner were released, he would had to look upon the fire and as a result, the objects once dictated his perception of reality now would become new images in front of him. So, Plato describes why and how prisoners would be frightened. Besides, they would also want to come back to the cave to the familiar dark existence. The others would look at the sun and they would finally see the real world. As a result, they would realize that their previous existence was farce; just a shadow of truth, and that would result that they would understand that their previous lives had been a deception. In addition, just a few would embrace the sun and the true life and they would better understand the “reality.” Finally, both Glaucon and Socrates are sure that the prisoner would rather suffer any fate but he would not come back to his previous life and understanding. After that he would want to come back to the cave to free the other prisoners, and would be surprised that people still in the cave would not believe in the “enlightened” truth bearer. Moreover, a number of those prisoners would refuse to understand any truth beyond their existence in the cave.

To sum up, truth has to be experienced rather than told as language doesn’t convey belief. So, it may be said that in fact, language is the barest shadow of the reality. That’s why people, committed to a religious view, usually mention this statement. Hence, faith cannot be given to other people because it has to be experienced.

Anyway, I think that “Allegory of the Cave” represents a complex model that allows us to travel through our lives and understanding. This story shows us that the reality has a leading part in the people existence. Besides, this understanding can be used as a qualification for leadership and government.