Compare And Contrast Plato's Allegory Of The Cave

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Plato, an Ancient Greek and highly esteemed philosopher, is best known for his text, The Republic. More specifically, though, it is his “Allegory of the Cave” in Book VII of this text that draws most scholars to him. This specific allegory has been used by writers for hundreds of years, including Frederick Douglass. In his work, “Narrative of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself”, Douglass takes his own personal journey from slavery to freedom and applies it to the pre-existing form that Plato created in his allegory. The parallels between these two texts are uncanny and it does not take much for the reader to see that Douglass’ narrative is much more than the physical journey he describes - that he is in fact escaping from the cave that Plato once illustrated. In its most simple and basic terms, Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” creates an illustration of prisoners who are being kept in a cave; their crimes are never mentioned, but their punishments are beautifully described. Each prisoner, according to Plato, is kept within a cave and is chained in such a way that not only do they face the cave wall, but they are also unable to turn their heads, making the cave wall the only thing they see. Behind them and higher up in the cave is a fire. By utilizing the fire, there are “men carrying past the wall…show more content…
As he talks about the prisoners, he claims that - were they not released and able to go into the outside light - they “would deem reality to be nothing else than the shadows of the artificial objects” (Plato). He describes their original life in the cave as being primitive and conjecture in nature. Once released from their chains, though, the prisoner must make his way past the fire and into the outside world because for Plato, “the entire ascent out of the cave, is a story of progress toward understanding values”
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