The Allegory of the Cave is one of Greek philosopher Plato’s most well known works. It is an extended allegory, where humans are depicted as being imprisoned by their bodies and what they perceive by sight only. In the allegory of the cave Plato wanted to show how true reality is not always what it seems. A group of prisoners were chained up in a cave since there childhood, each prisoner was chained to each other by their heads.The prisoners were forced to face a blank wall while they were in the cave. Behind the prisoners there was a fire however the prisoners could not see the fire but between the prisoners and the fire there would a be puppet show where people would walk, talk and carry objects to keep the prisoners amused.
The prisoners perceive only shadows of the people and things passing on the walkway; the prisoners hear echoes of the talk coming from the shadows. They perceive the shadows and echoes as reality. Whilst in the cave one prisoner is set free. He stands up and turns around and is forced to look at the fire, after the pain in his eyes from the fire he struggles to see anything. The prisoner is dragged out of the cave and into the world above. At first, the prisoner is so dazzled by the light that he can only look at shadows, then at reflections, then finally at the real objects like trees, flowers and houses. He sees that these are even more real than the shadows were, and that those were only copies of reality.
The prisoner has now reached the cognitive stage of thought. He has caught his first glimpse of the most real thing, which is the Forms. In the film The Matrix, the humans trapped in the Matrix are like the people in the cave. They see only what the machines want them to see, but they believe they see reality as it really is. They accept what their senses tell them all that exists. Neo suspects that this is all a lie, but he’s not sure how the Matrix works. Morpheus, who runs the resistance to the Matrix, brings Neo into the Resistance, believing that Neo is the person who has been foreseen by the Oracle to be able to defeat the Matrix
In The Allegory of the Cave the people creating the shadows represent the powerful people in society. In The Matrix the puppet-handlers are the machines controlled by Artificial Intelligence. The puppet-handlers use fake surroundings as a way to manipulate the information that the prisoners receive. While the prisoners are being fooled and influenced by the fake reality, the puppet-handlers are too because they are also living inside the artificial world they have created as well.
Neo lives in world which is controlled by the matrix agents just like Plato’s prisoner lives in a world (cave) controlled by the form holders. They both manage to escape from the world as they know it and come to know the world as it really is. Neo, with some help from Morpheus, comes to realize that the life he as been leading so far is nothing but the life of a slave, shaped under the control of the Matrix, protected by the agents.
Plato’s prisoner comes to realize first that the shadows he is looking at are not the truth, they are just shadows cast on the wall by the form holders. He sees the fire and as he follows the path which leads him outside of the cave, he sees the sun and everything else illuminated by it. The characters, simultaneously experience shock and then a feeling of fear when they first perceive what is real. Neo is able to see how humans are “grown”, hooked on wires, an element which symbolizes control just like the chains which tie the prisoners in Plato’s cave. In the movie as Morpheus and the group decided to leave the matrix they get attacked by the agents, the agents in the movie are just like the government in the allegory.
Morpheus decided to flight against the agents will the rest of the group including Neo decided to get out of the matrix but what they don’t know is that they were set up by one of there own Cypher. Cypher hates knowing the truth he wants to go back to his normal comfortable life in the matrix he doesn’t want to be part of the experience anymore, so he makes a deal with the agents to get his normal life back he tricks Morpheus. The agents and the government are the same they are like the puppets in the allegory fooling the society to make them believe what they want me to believe not allowing them to see what is the truth. Unlike Plato’s prisoner, who managed to find his way out of the cave without any help from others, Neo is helped out by Morpheus.
Neo is then faced with a moment of choice would he take the blue pill and stay in the world of the matrix which is the world of the senses or take the red pill, and come to know reality as it objectively exists. He chooses the red pill therefore giving himself the opportunity to experience the world of the mind, the real world and finds it as mind-blowing as Plato’s prisoner finds the enlighten world outside of the cave. The Mirror right after Neo took the red pill and the distorted spoon illusion before Neo went to the Oracle are simply products of the mind. It is in Plato’s Allegory of the cave where this illusion is happening. It is the mind that makes the spoon and the mirror distorted. It is the mind that makes the spoon inexistent, which is considered to be the truth. This spoon is the copy of the spoon of perfection in the world of forms. The spoon does not move by itself but Neo makes it move.
In the Allegory Plato says that the freed prisoner would be confused at what he saw. When Neo is finally confronted with the real world, he is in a state of uncertainty. The realization of the truth is so overwhelming that he throws up and passes out. In “The Allegory of the Cave,” the Freed prisoner might even feel that what he was seeing now was the illusion and the shadows on the wall were actually more real.
The freed prisoner’s first reaction would be to turn around and return to the false reality because it is less painful and more familiar to him. According to Plato, the freed prisoner must have started to question what he saw in front of him and wondered about where the shadows came from. He must have sensed that something was wrong and he wanted to know the truth. This theme is also found in the movie, Neo is very much like the freed prisoner. As Morpheus tells Neo, “You’re here because you know something.” Morpheus realizes that Neo has a place in society and is there because of what he knows.
For Neo to realise this Morpheus says ‘free your mind, let go of doubt’. In conclusion, Plato’s story of the cave brings up many philosophical points; and, most importantly, it addresses the issue of society’s role in our lives. Trinity tells Neo ‘The Matrix can not tell you who you are.’ It seems that the differences between “The Allegory of the Cave” and “The Matrix” do not prevent them from telling a similar story about the unreliability of the senses. We find Neo, at the end of the film, doing more than simply bending the laws of physics with the Matrix. It seems like he has stepped almost entirely out of that very world. He does not, however, appear in two places at once, but his destruction of one of the agents, and his ability to fly, says that the laws of physics are bent.
Courtney from Study Moose
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