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Philosophical Analysis of the Matrix Essay

In life, we have two choices: to accept the painful reality of the real world, and to believe the illusion of a perfect world. This was evident in the movie The Matrix (1999). The characters in the film, especially the main character Neo, have to choose to live in ignorance in what one believes to be reality; or to awake to the truth that what one sees as reality is an illusion. Oftentimes, I prefer to believe in wonderful ideas, the fantasy world, the happy ever after in fairytales. I dream of being in that world, being one with the hero/heroine who can make a difference in the world, who can save the world.

Yet, we would never be like that. We don’t have supernatural powers to save the world. After watching the movie, I started to reflect what world we live in, and if this world what we really want or need. Keanu Reeves played two roles in the film: as Thomas Anderson, a computer programmer during the day; and Neo, a computer hacker at night. Keanu Reeves tells of his character: “He was searching for the truth. He felt like something was wrong. He felt like he was not having real contact. There was something behind the veil, so he was looking for Morpheus to try to break that veil. Anderson’s life seems boring, assuming he works inside a ‘bleak’ cubicle, wherein Neo’s life seems to be incomplete, as he was searching for answers about The Matrix.

Anderson seems to be reluctant, as he allowed himself to be taken by the agents; whereas Neo was willing to risk and move on. During the first part of the movie, Reeves was more of a Thomas Anderson than Neo, since he was overwhelmed of the world that awaits him after he took the pill, that if only he had a choice, he would be willing to go back as Mr. Anderson. He was also doubting himself if he really is the one, until he had to make decision to save Morpheus or to save himself which made a difference. I am amazed by his character that was willing to fight until the end. I also like Trinity, Neo’s love interest. She seems to be amazing, being able to kill the agents that haunted her in the apartment, and being able to jump from window to window. Also her decision to believe that Neo is the One and her decision to stand up for her love is a courageous act.

Though it is much seen as an action sci-fi movie, The Matrix is described to be a potpourri of philosophical views. If you read between the lines, you’ll see the ideas about our world, which is reality and which is an illusion; the symbolisms found in the movie, with the names Nebuchadnezzar, Morpheus, Neo, Trinity, Zion, and others having religious, mythological, and historical significance. The movie has a resemblance with the idea of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, wherein the world we live in was a mere illusion of the real world we haven’t seen.

The idea shows that people could be at loss, having known and living in a world one thought to be real, and being placed closer to the truth and reality that one doesn’t think to be so. The idea also resembles the idea of African American sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois known as “double consciousness,” wherein Reeves was playing both as Anderson and Neo, who are somewhat related among each other. At present, we can connect it to our conscious and subconscious, living in the real world and the world we imagine to be.

The movie also raises question on skepticism, wherein we reflect if what we perceive is real or just an illusion. In the movie, Neo was to choose between the red pill and the blue pill. In a conversation with Neo, Morpheus said: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe (ignorance of illusion). You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes (acceptance of reality). According to Wikipedia, the red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are pop culture symbols representing the choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red). If I were Neo, I would choose the same pill. Reality would be very painful, but everyone should experience that. I guess that would complete us as humans, since these experiences shape us as humans and make us stronger.


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