Comparison of Plato’s Allegory of the cave and the Truman Show

The allegory of the cave is an enlightening philosophical work made by Greek Philosopher, Plato. The allegory portrays people as sponges and that they only know as much as they are told, whether it is true or not and it compares the effect of education and the lack of it in human nature. Plato’s allegory of the cave is highly comparable to the movie called “The Truman Show”, which some may argue is a modern adaptation that is more relatable today. It shares some of the main themes of the allegory, for example the seven symbols of the cave: the light/fire, the shadows, the breaking of the chains, the prisoners, the free prisoner, the cave, and the real objects. The allegory of the cave is a very disputable idea which many do not understand.

Plato’s main concept of the cave is that people see reality as the visible world when reality is more than just the visible world. It begins with the assumption that if a group of prisoners had their necks and hands chained down in a cave; they would be unable to see behind themselves. With a fire behind them, they would be more capable of seeing shadows of images as they passed by the fire. As time passed, the prisoners began to identify the shadows and issued the different shadow’s names. However, if one of the prisoners was to climb out of the mouth of the cave, he would not be able to see anything at first because the light would be so blinding. But as his eyes gradually began to focus to the light, he would begin to see images more clearly. The light enables the prisoner to see the true image and not just the shadow of the image. If this prisoner was to go back to the cave, he would find that it would be impossible to conform back to his old world. At first he would not be able to identify shadows because his eyes would not yet be adjusted to the darkness in the cave. If the returning prisoner were to tell the other prisoners about the light and that their shadows were not real images, they would not believe him and would accuse him of trying to disrupt their way of life. Finally, since the prisoner could no longer fit in, the others would be forced to kill him. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is a symbol for the contrasts between ideas and what humans perceive as reality. For example, Plato would argue that ideas go beyond the physical world. Think of a cup. That cup could fall on the ground, it could crack, and even break… Eventually it would not physically exist anymore. However, the idea of the cup will go on forever. The idea, once thought of, cannot be undone. It cannot be broken or tainted. Plato also argues that humans are the prisoners in the cave. Humans live in a world of shadows, where they do not see the reality of ideas. Humans see the cup that can be broken, the shadows of ourselves. However, it is possible to climb out of the cave, to be released from the chains, but the process is painful. When the prisoners climb from the cave (perceive and understand ideas), they see the world for how it should be. Humans see that ideas are eternal and perfect, even though the physical world crumbles.

The movie reflects Plato’s philosophy because Truman was a prisoner in the cave, he only knew what he was being fed to believe, and when he tried to look for the truth, or rather look past what they were telling him, they would throw him curveballs to keep him from knowing the truth, and from doing what he wants to do. The question that Plato is trying to answer the question is: “is there change and if so, what is change?” he was trying to answer this age old philosophical question brought on by Heraclitus and Parmenides. Plato has an idea that there are two worlds: the empirical world, or world of shadows, which is the world that we live in and the world of forms and ideas which he defines as reality, or rather the real world. In the movie, Truman starts off as a prisoner in the cave, which is represented by the town, but as the movie progresses, it is shown that he is afraid of water because it is shown that his father was killed in a boating accident, so that acted as a chain, which stopped him from exploring the world, but he broke the chain when he took the boat, and he became the free prisoner, or philosopher. The people were mere shadows of the real world and he believed that they were real, until he saw the girl whom represented the real objects in Plato’s allegory, he fell in love with her and she started telling him that is was not real and it sparked a curiosity in Truman, especially when she was taken away, he spends the rest of the movie trying to find her, allowing for him to break the chains. The director of the series was the light/God because he decides what Truman was going to see and do. Throughout the movie, they try to deter him from leaving the town every chance they got for example he said he wanted to be an explorer so his teacher told him that everything to be explored has already been explored, they set up a guard dog to prevent him from going onto a boat, and the major thing they did which chained him for the rest of the movie was create a massive storm when he was on the boat with his father, and there was a freak accident in which Truman’s father died and that traumatized Truman and made him afraid of water, which is evident when he could not drive over the bridge, he went into a shock state.

Plato’s allegory of the cave is a very impressive piece especially if one were to take into account the time in which he came up with these astonishing ideas. His ideas are very timeless in that, even today humans only know what they are told for example a student in school is being taught something that could very well be incorrect, but unless the student’s curiosity makes them want to find the truth for themselves, they really will not know. This is exactly the case with Truman, he only knew what he was being taught and he never questioned anything because he was satisfied, but once he was no longer satisfied with what he was being feed to believe, he started to push himself and he broke the chains in order for him to find out the real truth. The Truman show is a very accurate representation of Plato’s allegory of the cave in the modern times, so it could easily be understood by the people of today, while there are still some things that people do not understand, it was the same thing with Plato when he explained the allegory to the people. The thing about Plato’s allegory of the cave is that he is definitely a great mind who though outside of the box, and his enlightening works will continue to enlighten the minds of people for years to come.


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