Plato’s Cave

Plato’s cave: summary, meaning, allegory. Let’s talk about one of the most well-known philosophical concepts of history that is Plato’s Cave.

Plato's cave: summary, meaning, allegory
Plato’s cave: summary, meaning, allegory

Plato was an Athenian philosopher who was a resident of ancient Greece who became famous for penning down the Socratic dialogue of The Allegory of the Cave. The Allegory of the Cave is known as one of the most significant pieces of work in history as far as the discipline of philosophy is concerned.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave received great reorganization as it appeared in the Book 7 of his masterpiece. Plato used the word “The Republic” which describes the sustained acquisition of a utopian society and it covers the time between 380 and 360 BC.

During the period mentioned the history of the Greeks was known as the Classical Age. The key purpose of the Allegory of the cave of Plato was that in this life lesson he was questioning every assumption that we believe to be a reality. It was a powerful way of developing skills of thinking about yourself and thinking and discovering everybody’s unique solutions related to any problem.

The truth that was released by Plato when book 7 was published was about human beings. He described humans differently and according to him, humans can be easily fooled as they believe in everything they see even if they believe everything that is told to them.

Sometimes, Plato’s description seems to be a story as Plato defined humans. Some believe the description mentioned in this book as the foolishness of the humans whereas others may believe that in the era during which the allegory of the cave came out, people were so people that they had always seen their entire reality as shadows that fall on the walls of the cave.

Plato even explored that humanity is captured within a cave and the humans are far away from reality.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave has observed to see whether it relates to reality or not as according to Plato humans that live their lives as prisoners of the cave are ignorant and do not pay any attention to reality and show stubborn sudden behavior when anyone tries to show the reality, these ancient beliefs in considering shadows as their reality.


Plato’s Cave covers vast information discussing the concepts of justice, fire, sun, prisoners, and many others. The summary of this book can be understood by the title ‘Imprisonment in the cave’.

This story begins when Plato, having Socrates, asked Glaucon to imagine a cave where people have spent their whole life imprisoned since their childhood.

It seems interesting as Plato never considered them as prisoners from their birth. They further described the question to Glaucon and asked him to further imagine that these prisoners are chained for keeping their necks and legs and torturing them by forcing them to face the wall and not to look around the cave nor they are allowed to look at each other even at themselves.

The description continues and Plato further describes that behind these prisoners is a fire and between the fire and the prisoners a narrow path is provided with a low wall, and behind this wall, people will walk carrying puppets or different objects in their hands of men or different living beings.

The reason why people are walking behind the wall is that their bodies have not caught the shadows of a prisoner to see but the object that they are carrying in their hands in front of them is making shadows.

The prisoners are unable to see what is happening behind their back, and they are only seeing the shadows of the objects that they are carrying in their hands. These prisoners are talking to one another and their sounds echoing but they believe that these sounds are coming from the shadows.

Socrates suggested that these shadows are equivalent to reality for these prisoners as they have not seen anything except for these shadows without realizing that what they are seeing are the shadows of the objects in fire, much less that these various objects are inspired by real things existing outside as except for these things they never got the opportunity to see anything else.

These puppets, human-made light, and fire were used by artists for making shadows; moreover, Plato also indicated fire as the political doctrine that is nationally taught to state. These artists made use of light and shadows for teaching the dominant doctrine of the time and place.

Another thought that arose was that some humans will never escape from the cave as it is not an easy task that can be performed by anyone as only a true philosopher with decades of thinking and preparation will be successful in leaving.

Most of the humans in the cave will live at the bottom whereas the few major artists among them will make use of human-made light.

Plato described the thought of departure from the cave too. According to him in this scenario, only one prisoner would have freed and he would look around and see the fire but the light would hurt his eyes making it difficult for him to look at the objects casting shadows. If that person is told, he is something real other than various versions of reality he will not believe it and he will turn back and run away to the shadow of the carried objects.

Another image that was described by Plato was to suppose that the prisoner is forcefully dragged into the light of the sun then that prisoner will get angry and feel pain as the worsened radiant light of the sun will blind him.

But slowly his eyes will adjust to the light of the sun and then along with shadows he will be able to look at the reflection of people and things in water and at last he will see the people and the things themselves. Then he will look at the stars and moons even if he will look straight at the sun.


Virtually all the philosophy falls from Plato and this piece of information is always remembered when discussion about how humans perceive reality becomes the topic for description.

Not only this but it is also considered whether there is any higher truth to this explanation of reality. It is a concept that has been pondered for thousands of years and now we think that we are close to an answer. It can be a great source for any other literacy basis or even a film but we should go through allegory at this time that is believed to be inspired by Plato’s cave.


Despite a great age, allegory can be used for filmmaking. It is because the audience is habitual of seeing images on screen and their subconscious mind believes it to be true what we know that it is false.

Only when we step out of the theater we can realize reality as thoughts that we took out of theater were mere imaginations and we cannot apply them to our lives. This technique is of great use in films for utilizing their plots and building their themes. Moreover, if you are interested in looking for an even more detailed version of Plato’s Cave then you can see the animated film that was narrated by Orson Welles.

Even though Allegory is considered universal, still there is too much to learn from this term. This allegory describes a dialogue conducted between Plato and his brother Claucon in which they are discussing what would happen if a group of persons that are living in prison realizes that the world in which they are just watching is nothing but a lie.

Plato used this theory as a base to debate and discuss the deceptive appearance of the things that are existing in the real world. Through this, he encourages the people to focus on the reality of ideas.

According to some observations, something inherently haunts Plato’s cave theory. A person should learn everything in his life up to the point that it is all lie. A famous question that was asked in the film Jordan Peele’s film Us was What if when the people finally recognize the lie, they resort to violence? Which is one of the most blatant examples of Allegory of the Cave in film history.

Another interesting aspect of the allegory of the cave that is often overlooked is that allegory can be used to effect the change. This aspect describes the third part of the story when the prisoners returned to the cave but this time the situation was different as now darkness blinds him since he has become accustomed to the sunlight.

It is because of a well-known reality that once we have accumulated knowledge we can’t step back into ignorance. It is believed to be the clearest adaptation of the allegory.

I hope you enjoyed this interesting topic to a great extent. Share this philosophical story with other fellows as well. It will be a great appreciation for us.

Read also: Ancient ontology; Aristotle politics.

External resource: Wikipedia

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