1 - The Allegory of the Cave I The Allegory An allegory is...

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The Allegory of the Cave I. The Allegory An allegory is a fictional story in which meaning is communicated symbolically through various metaphors. It is a kind of extended metaphor. Socrates says that the allegory represents "education and its effect upon our nature." The story represents symbolically the movement from ignorance to enlightenment. In the story, people are shackled deep within a cave. Their heads are fastened and able to gaze only in the direction of one of the walls of the cave. These prisoners have been there since birth. Behind them is an upper walkway, on which people are carrying various objects. There is a fire behind and above this walkway and it casts shadows of the objects being carried along the walkway. These shadows are cast on to the wall upon which the prisoners gaze. The voices of the people walking along the pathway above the prisoners bounce off the wall. The prisoners, able only to see the shadows on the wall, are unaware of what is happening in the rest of the cave. They interpret the voices to be coming from the shadows. They also take the shadows to be reality. All they know, even concerning themselves, is confined to the shadows Socrates then speculates on what would happen if one of the prisoners were forced to stand up and look in the other direction. He also inquires as to what would happen if a prisoner were forced up the walkway to the top and exit of the cave and forced to walk outside the cave. Socrates indicates that at each stage the freed prisoner would experience some discomfort. But he would eventually become accustomed to the new experiences. The freed prisoner eventually would make it to the outside world and see things that he could not see while inside the cave.
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