Allegory Of The Cave - Interpretation

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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The first scene of the Allegory of the Cave is of prisoners in a cave. They are chained down and wear blinders on their eyes so they are forced to only look straight forward. Straight forward there is a screen or a wall. Within the cave, behind the prisoners, there is a fire and there are shadow casters that hold up puppets of images from the real world. The fire casts these images on the screen or wall in front of the prisoners. Since they have been imprisoned since birth they know nothing else of life but these images.

One day, one of the prisoners breaks free from his chains. Looking around for the first time, he sees the fire and saw how it caused shadows to be cast on the walls, his eyes felt pain (from seeing light for 1st time in his life), which can also be interpreted as the pain of seeing what the actual cause for the shadows was.

He travels past the fire and shadow casters (who conceal themselves from the prisoners view). He notices a patch of light coming from the opening of the cave. He travels toward this light. The prisoner makes his way out of the cave into the light. Because he is entering the light for the first time in his life, out of complete darkness his eyes hurt and are blinded by the brightness of the light outside. He finds that he is more used to the darkness of night, as it is dark like the cave he came from. In this new world he associates best with shadows (cast by the sun), as they are more familiar to him than the rest of the surroundings in this new world. Soon his eyes adjust to the light and he begins...