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Allegory Of The Cave

Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | BCE

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From the first line of the essay (“Next, said I, here is a parable to illustrate the degrees in which our nature may be enlightened or unenlightened” [paragraph 1, line 1]), we see that enlightenment, or the gaining of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom on a subject, is an essential thematic component of “The Allegory of the Cave.” Through the allegory itself, enlightenment is literalized as physical light and the ability to see. The prisoners are trapped in literal darkness in the cave, which represents their ignorance of the true form of things. Instead, all they see are shadows. It is only by turning to the light—first the fire, then the outside world—that they can come to the knowledge of the true forms of things.

The Platonic Socrates makes note, however, that enlightenment is neither easy nor always comfortable, saying, “In the world of knowledge, the last thing to be perceived and only with great difficulty is the essential Form of Goodness” (paragraph 31, line 9). This difficulty is also represented in the

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