Limited Knowledge, truth (or revelation), reality, and idealism are some of the common themes expressed in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and the film “The Truman Show. ” The differences can be found in the way Plato allows some of the prisoners to remain unknowing, by giving them an almost fear-like stance involving the truth of their world, and how to free themselves. Another is that the “false” world is created on different premises, either to create a safe an ideal environment, or merely to only allow the characters to think their world is ideal (both treat those involved like a science experiment).
Both of these stories, however, have a similar plot in that they keep the subjects having very limited knowledge, living in an almost ideal world. These subjects are then meant to seek truth in the reality of life, rather than in what they experienced thus far throughout their lives. This could possibly be implying that you may only truly believe in reality if you’ve experienced an event firsthand, rather than by methods of learning similar to secondhand knowledge.
In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, the prisoners are kept chained to a wall, with only shadow puppets on the opposite wall to act as a representation of the “real” world. This will eventually cause the subjects to firmly believe that the limited experiences and knowledge they are allowed to have IS their real world. Due to the prisoners only being given select “life” showings, a feeling of restless desire for the truth is created.
This in turn causes the escape of one prisoner into the light, or the actual world.
This is another point where this Allegory varies from the film, because now to this escaped prisoner, the actual world, or reality, is the ideal world, because what is seen in the visible realm, with light to guide the senses, will undoubtedly represent all of the fantasies that are newly thought up in comparison to the old lifestyle. In the Truman Show, Truman Burbank realizes what actually the real world is, giving him the opportunity for change permanently.
Unfortunately, since the enlightened prisoner was surrounded once again by close-minded people once back on the cave; he was soon to think his new-found knowledge incorrect; this was also exemplified in the film, when Truman thinks something is amiss, but everybody else tells him that things are perfectly normal, casting doubt on his realizations. Both of these works suggest that truth must be sought out and proven, and only accepted by the recipient if they actually believe in them.
Devices such as the media control how much truth we are able to receive, further limiting our knowledge. The media was one of the main contributors in keeping Truman ignorant of his false life, and was primarily manipulated by Christof, the show’s director, who took himself to be almost like a God to Truman and his life. The prisoner’s guards in the Allegory were also similar to this, since they too seemed to play God, by subjecting the prisoners to the false images of what life and its occupants are like.
The media that was used to create the “set-up” involved the faux TV programs, radio stations, weather reports and its mechanisms, and the actors and actresses themselves, since they were meant to keep up the charade of Seahaven. Due to the media being controlled by the “elite” (the wealthy, privileged, and overall more opportunistic class), what we know is constantly subjected to a lack of accuracy and truthfulness.
This, to some, is almost like a salvation from carrying on the burdens of reality, such as terrorist attempts, attack plans, and dangers to the population. Christof was mimicking this small-minded view by keeping Truman locked up in a bubble, essentially for his own good, which is what was told to the viewers-that he was perfectly safe and the show was legal, so they would not dwell on the notion of whether or not it was ethical to control someone’s life without their consent; for surely if asked, they would decline such a gracious offer.
The prisoner’s guards also created a sort of media with which to grant the subjects knowledge, by creating shadow puppets on the wall, so that one might think they were the objects/characters themselves, and not merely an outline of them. This robbed the prisoners from their right to truthful knowledge, and overall warped their sense of reality and life, causing mass disorientation (which is what the media is known for).
In conclusion, Jim Carrey’s The Truman Show and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave have several similarities involving themes, plot, and content, but also differ in that the finality of each piece finishes in opposite directions, with the film’s end being more optimistic, while the Allegory’s is slightly more menacing, creating a more contemplative attitude towards the piece as a whole. Both of these works dealt with knowledge, realization, a quest for truth, and idealism, making an excellent comparative topic for any knowledge issue.