Allegory of the Cave Analysis

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Define allegory in your own words. Explain the main elements of the allegory in the excerpt from the Republic. An allegory is a story, or a parable, based on human experience meant to act as a moral guide. The allegory from Plato’s Republic is a cautionary tale that expresses how human life can be expressed as a duality. There is the darkness of unknowing for those that are forced to (or choose) to remain in the cave. Then there is the enlightenment that comes from the discovery of truth and knowledge for those who are either thrown violently into the light and choose to remain there.

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Within the story there are several elements that build upon the principles described, idealism is one of the most prominent.

There are the men who represent citizens, the cave that represents society, and the objects that are represented in many forms (noises, shadows, reflections, ideas). The understanding of oneself, other members of society, and the world that surrounds is what gives us the ability to navigate life. If one so chooses to remain in the darkness of the cave, confined to the society from which they are born, then the world outside the cave need not exist for there is no desire to have something you do not even know exits. For those who have seen the light and escaped that which confines one’s mind, they can either reject the knowledge or openly accept the new facts and attempt to share the new-found knowledge with others. Both options come with a price. For those who choose to stay, they will never be able to achieve more than what is within their realm of existence. For those that choose to embrace the knowledge, they must be responsible with their enlightened minds and seek to find a way to spread the knowledge to others for the betterment of society.

Plato believed that the only ones in society who were truly fit to “rule” would be those who had the intellectual capability and most-complete comprehension of the Forms. Only those who were not only wise but compassionate and ethical when it came to matters of the Republic, should be trusted with great responsibility. And as noted in the text, these individuals “are obliged to act as ‘king-bees’ in the communal hive”. Though not listed in the text, these exceedingly keen individuals were what Plato referred to as the Philosopher Kings.

I have always very much agreed with Plato’s dialogues in the Republic because I also feel that the ruling elite should be well versed in the ways of philosophy. This would ensure that those who assert authority over others are not doing it to accumulate great wealth, political power, or greater life than those he/she is supposed to be leading. It is my belief, that when one has indulged in the art of philosophical thought, compassion and understanding will seamlessly seep into one’s character effortlessly leaving behind an individual of incorruptible morality.”

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Allegory of the Cave Analysis. (2021, Jul 05). Retrieved from