Allegory Of The Cave Essays

Essay about Allegory Of The Cave

An allegory is a story that can be interpreted to reveal a second meaning or a symbolic representation of something else. ‘Allegory of the Cave’ by Plato, is one of the most important allegories to be written and has been interpreted in hundreds of different ways. Plato describes that individuals experience psychological revelation throughout their lives. I believe that Plato is communicating his ideas through different phases, each phase representing a time in life.

Socrates describes a scene where a group of slaves has been held captive in a cave their entire lives. The prisoners are chained by their legs and neck, unable to move their heads in any direction. They have been seated in the same position this whole time, all they can see is what is in front of them. Behind the prisoners is a fire, which is the only light source they have in the cave. Between the prisoners and the fire is a long walkway where people walk by carrying all sorts of objects. These objects cast shadows on the wall, which is all the prisoners see. They also hear echoes, the voices of people coming from the walkway. The prisoners assume that the noises they hear are coming from the shadows they see. A prisoner is released and forced to climb out of the cave and step outside into the light. Once his eyes adjust to the sunlight he begins to recognize the shadows he saw and the noises he heard in the cave.

In my opinion, the allegory of the cave represents a person’s development from childhood to adulthood. In part one of the allegory, Socrates’ description of the people living underground in the cave is representing childhood. Just like the prisoners, infants are not wandering outside of their homes all alone. Children are always close and watched by their parents. The people living in the cave are shackled in a position where they are not able to see anything. The only thing they see are the shadows of the objects moving by behind them cast by the fire. All they can do is guess what they are looking at. Growing up children are always roaming around, curious about all the objects around them. Although they may not know what exactly they have encountered they still want to the function of that specific object. Those trapped in the cave are isolated from reality and have no clue what the shadows are or where they are coming from. They are not able to know the true meaning behind the shadows unless they go above ground.

Leaving the cave and coming across reality as explained in part two is describing coming of age or can also be represented as teenage years. This time in life symbolizes teenagers moving on in life. After so many years of teenagers being under their guardian’s confinement, all they would like to do is go out into the ‘real’ world and be on their own. They all want to learn and experience new things. When the prisoner is released and forced to turn and face the light he immediately suffers a sharp pain in his eyes. There are times when teenagers run into situations where they learn that their experiences throughout life can cause them pain. There is a chance that these encounters might alter their perception of life. 

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