He now sees reality, and recognises the shadows below for what they were. Later, the escaped prisoner returns to the cave. Because he has come in out of the daylight, his eyes are temporarily blinded by the darkness. The prisoners in the cave argue that his visit beyond the cave has ruined his eyesight and that they would kill anyone who tried to release them and lead them out. In the analogy of the cave various characters and objects represent different real-life objects and groups of people.
They see different surroundings and actual objects, not just shadows and of course they are stunned. All that they believed to be real and true was a lie and they have now seen reality. The prisoner then returns to the cave to tell the others of his findings but upon returning he is put down by the others and they dislike what he is telling him. Plato then says that upon his return the prisoner could supposedly be killed. The prisoners represent the citizens of the world within the analogy of the cave and the people who carry the objects are the politicians of the world.
In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, the scenario begins by describing a cave inhabited by three prisoners who have been chained and held immobile since childhood; not only are their limbs held in place, but their heads are also fixed, which compels them to gaze at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire and between the fire and prisoners is a walkway, along which people walk carrying things on their heads including figurines of men and animals. The chained up prisoners interpret the shadows cast on the cave wall to be as real. Eventually a prisoner is released from the cave and permitted to be let out to see the outside world such as a river, the sun, the stars and begins to discover the ultimate truth. When the ‘enlightened’ prisoner returns to the cave and voices to the other prisoners how the shadows are not the reality they seem; he is brutally kicked to death by his fellow prisoners.
Because of the fire, the statues cast shadows across the wall that the prisoners are facing. The prisoners watch the stories that these shadows play out, and because these shadows are all they ever get to see, they believe them to be the most real things in the world. When they talk to one another about “men,” “women,” “trees,” or “horses,” they are referring to these shadows. These prisoners represent the lowest stage on the line—imagination. A prisoner is freed from his bonds, and is forced to look at the fire and at the statues themselves.
In this cave, there are several prisoners who are shackled so that they may only look forward. Being in this cave for as long as they can remember, this appears normal to them and does not even think looking backwards is possible. A bonfire is placed behind the prisoners and even farther is a pathway leading out of the cave. Objects are moved in between the bonfire and the prisoners, casting shadows of the object on the wall in front of the prisoners. When the prisoners see these shadows, they name the object, as if they were real, and not just a mere shadow.
The philosopher then goes back into the cave to try and share his ideas with the other prisoners. The sun in the outside world illuminates the truth. When the philosopher first goes out into the light he is blinded by it. This could show that it’s painful to accept reality
Plato begins his analogy with a cave; the cave is said to represent the empirical world that we see and hear around us. Inside this cave there are prisoners who are facing a wall; these prisoners have been underground since they can remember and are chained into position by their necks and ankles. The prisoners are unable to look anywhere but at a wall. However behind the prisoners there is a fire, when the guards walk by the fire they carry statues on their head. The statues infront of the fire cause a shadow to be reflected onto the wall for the prisoners to observes.
Some of the bearers speak and others are silent, as you might expect.” “I see,” said Glaucon [Socrates’ student]. “Truly a strange place and strange sort of people.” “Actually, they are just like ourselves.” Socrates explained, “What do you think these chained men would know of themselves or each other or anything else? They will know only the shadows which the firelight casts on the opposite wall of the cave.” “They could not know anything else if they were chained so that they could never turn their heads,” exclaimed Glaucon. “True;; and what about the things being held above the wall? Would not they only know the shadows of these things?” asked Socrates.
In his description of the parable of the cave, he describes prisoners in a cave ‘with a long entrance open to daylight as wide as the cave,’ the prisoners legs and heads are restricted of movement so they can only look straight ahead of them. ‘Behind them and higher up’, is a fire and between the prisoners and the fire is a road with a curtain ‘like the screen at puppet shows between the operators and the audience, above which they show their puppets’ (Simile of the cave). Men go past this screen, carrying tools and gear behind the curtain and the prisoners believe that the shadows they saw are real and that they were able to speak. The prisoners believe they are real because it is all they have been seeing since they were children. They never question the source of the shadows, they simply accept that they are there.
He leads them from the cave and shows them reality, challenging all they have ever known. Returning to the cave the prisoners reject what he has shown them, although the saviour realises he cannot go back to his former vision. He becomes an outcast with knowledge without friends. The difference between the fire and the sun is key to understanding the analogy. The light of the fire gave the prisoners their limited vision, showing only shadows, whereas the brightness of the sun allowed and expansive view of reality.