34 pages 1 hour read


Allegory Of The Cave

Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | BCE

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Essay Topics


“The Allegory of the Cave” is split into two basic sections (the dividing line falling between paragraphs 30 and 31): the first being the allegory itself, and the second being Socrates’ explanation of what the allegory means. Sometimes there is a one-to-one correlation (the cave and fire and outside world correspond to the visual world, the sun, and higher knowledge, respectively), but in other places the second part moves beyond the ideas first begun in the allegory itself. Where do you see this happening, and how does the allegory help lead to these deeper revelations?


In the allegory, ignorance is represented by prisoners who are restricted in their movements and thus kept from knowledge. In what ways do you think ignorance is a matter of one’s own will, and in what ways might it be imposed upon one through no fault of one’s own? Based on quotes from the essay, how might Socrates answer this question?


Later in the essay, Plato has Socrates intimate there is some danger inherent in gaining knowledge and wisdom, should that knowledge be used for evil, saying, “Wisdom, it seems, is certainly the virtue of some diviner faculty, which never loses its power, though its use for good or harm depends on the direction towards which it is turned” (paragraph 39, line 5).