A Comparative Analysis of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and The Matrix
Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave,’ presented in (Book VII of the Republic), and The Matrix movie by Lana Wachowski both provide continuing inquiries about the meaning of reality and whether we are living in the real world or the real world of illusion. Both are asking vital questions concerning our reality. I.e., regarding if the world that we see as reality is true? They set up events where our minds are regulated by something that is away from us (whether it is a shadow on cave walls or a computer. In this essay, I will compare and contrast Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and The Matrix, discussing their similarities and differences.
The Metaphorical Journeys
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is a metaphor in which human beings are shown to be held captive by their bodies and what they observe by vision alone (Republic VII, 515a-d, pp. 193-194). It is an excellent example that shows that all we perceive are defective ‘images’ or reflections of the highest Forms, which, in this case, symbolize reality and truth. In the Allegory of Cave, Plato wished to show us that reality is never what it seems and that we human beings seem not to understand the true reality of our world. The Matrix is a simulated and unreal world that is developed to keep us in check. It discusses how the physical world (the hero of the story, Neo), considered real, tends to be an imagination.
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There are many similarities that both the Allegory of the Cave and The Matrix reveal:
I realize that there is a similarity in acknowledging truth concerning themselves, which the freed prisoner in the cave and Neo in The Matrix need to encounter.
Both the freed prisoner and Neo have to conclude that the senses are insufficient and can mislead.
I discovered that they both explain the same account regarding the undependability of the senses as well as the need to concentrate on the senses to obtain real knowledge.
Likewise, I observed that a higher force regulates both the world in the Allegory of the Cave and The Matrix. For instance, Plato’s prisoner lives in a cave or possibly a world that the Form owners govern. While Neo lives in a world that the Matrix governs, they both find a way to get out of the world as they know it and then understand the world as it seems. Of course, Neo recognizes that the life he has been living is merely an enslaved person’s life, formed under the management of The Matrix and guarded by the directors. On the other hand, Plato’s prisoner understands that the shadows he is seeing are not reality; instead, they are merely shadows thrown on the wall by the owners of the forms.
Nevertheless, the people in both The Allegory of the Cave and The Matrix discover that they are captive and ignorant that the truth they believe they know is wrong. Also, both works additionally reveal the idea of learning a new thing. The prisoner in the Allegory of the Cave discovers infinite knowledge as soon as he goes away from the cave. Whereas Neo, in The Matrix, discovers he can carry out physical and difficult actions as soon as he finds out how to manipulate the Matrix.
I believe both works ask similar questions; mainly, their method of responding to these questions distinguishes them. However, the significant difference between Plato’s allegory of the cave and The Matrix is that whereas the Matrix reveals the best way directly into the physical world, Plato purely provides the idea that we are deceived or fantasizing and then allows us to ponder how to find out if there is a specific way to get out into reality. Meaning that the physical world we know is not true whatsoever. Also, the two works are equally different in the sense that the Allegory of the Cave has Forms, whereas the Matrix does not. Contrary to Plato’s prisoner, who can discover his outside of the cave with virtually no assistance from other people, Neo in the Matrix is assisted with the help of Morpheus. I think The Matrix appropriately confronted me to reexamine my response to the things of reality, and it causes us, the audience, to doubt our reality and what it is to us.
In contrast, the Allegory of the Cave has assisted me in getting a fresh knowledge of external reality; it even made me understand that I can never tell the things the truth is until I am confronted with the things that are not reality. Lastly, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and The Matrix both reveal to us ways to understand our very own reality and differentiate between the things that are real and the ones that are not. Undoubtedly, I believe they tell us that we can select our reality under the things we have noticed in our lives and then decide for ourselves what we believe is real or otherwise.
- Plato. (c. 380 BCE). “The Republic” (Book VII). Translated by Benjamin Jowett. [Original work in Greek]
- Wachowski, L. (Director). (1999). The Matrix [Film]. Warner Bros. Pictures.