Breaking Free in The Matrix Essay

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Breaking Free in The Matrix

Eighteenth-century Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau begins his infamous discourse The Social Contract by stating, "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they." Both Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" from The Republic and the Wachowski Brothers' hit film The Matrix discuss man's efforts on his journey towards illumination to break free of his chains and then liberate others imprisoned. While definite connections exist between the allegory and The Matrix, Plato and the Wachowski Brothers present different paths that one may take to achieve that end. The Matrix utilizes the symbolic figure
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Because of these unique abilities Morpheus and the other rebels treat Neo as the only hope for winning the war. Although he possesses obvious talents, Morpheus cannot perform the feats that Neo can, and neither can Trinity, Cypher, Switch, nor any other member of the resistance. In turn, they elevate Neo to an almost savior-like position, their "own personal Jesus Christ." Like Christ, a prophecy heralded Neo's coming, which "...would hail the destruction of the Matrix, end the war, bring freedom to our people." These aspects of the film emphasize Neo's superhero status, punctuated by the movie's ending image of him soaring into the sky like Superman.

In describing "...the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world..." (Jowett 179), Plato suggests a more personal journey. The Matrix suggests that "the One," a single person with certain unique abilities, must lead others to enlightenment while Plato's men in the cave do not possess any distinguishing characteristics, not even names. Plato does not denote any specifics concerning the "...human beings living in an underground den..." (177) rather he carefully describes the details of their confinement, which suggests perhaps the people bear no great importance but their situation does. To the reader, these prisoners could be male or female, of any race or religion. Because of his lack of specifications, one could
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