Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

Comparing The Allegory of the Cave and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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Plato’s work in the Allegory of the Cave emphasizes the actualization of reality and truth. Fredrick Douglass’ life, which is portrayed in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, is similar to Plato’s philosophical idea presented in “The Allegory of the Cave. ” Plato, a Greek philosopher introduces the significant meaning of reality and truth through his philosophical text. He illustrates the difference between illusion and the real world, which represents reality. In comparison, Frederick Douglass was an African American who had limited rights since he was a slave.

Douglass decided to escape the darkness and get educated to become aware of the outside world. The definition of progress in both tales, are very similar. In both stories, there are four major progressions. First, both stories begin with men who are in the stage of ignorance. Second, these men are somehow able to escape from their bondage to ignorance. Third, they are enlightened. Fourth, they go back to their fellow friends, who are still bound to ignorance, and enlighten them. “The Allegory of the Cave” and the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass share the path to knowledge from ignorance.

Initially, the idea of imprisonment is implied. The people from the cave were tied up along the wall with fire that created shadow against a wall. In “The Allegory of the Cave”, the shadows caused misrepresentation of the real world, or ignorance. On the other hand, Douglass was held back from learning how to read and write by society during that time period. Unfortunately, his identity was forced upon him to be a slave, since there was racism, oppression, discrimination, degradation and segregation between white persons and black persons.

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Therefore, it was difficult for African-Americans to speak, know, or understand freedom. At first, it was impossible for the two groups, those chained in the cave and African-Americans, to affect their immediate environment, or realistic elements, since they lacked liberty. In addition, exclusion from the freedom to interact with the “real world” led to other people accepting the way they live, believing there was no other choice. In the second stage, Douglass and one of the prisoners from the cave received the opportunity to explore the real world.

When Douglass was sent to Baltimore, he gained new insight and was introduced to a new world. Douglass was eager and strongly felt the necessity for gaining an education. Despite all the possible obstacles and consequences, Douglass was eager and felt the necessity to learn how to read and write. He tried to get the help from the his surroundings to obtain an education. However, the most important lesson he got was that he started to realize the real reason for the existence of slavery.

On the other hand, the man freed from the cave was forced to adapt himself to a new environment. Looking at the light, numerous living organisms, and other objects had created a different interpretation of his existent. In both situations, it was extremely difficult to accept the reality for both Fredrick Douglass and the freed man. Despite initial difficulties and fears, realizing and observing another reality created an eye-opening moment. In the third stage, Douglass gained much insight through his education, which led him to read books about slavery.

Later on, anger builds up as Douglass discovers the forced identity on him and he started to rebel against his masters. In comparison, as the time went on, the freed man got used to the new surroundings available to him. He realized that sunlight and other objects were useful and beneficial. Later, the freed man realized that the sun is an essential part of the world we live in. The final stage in both pieces of literature was the most important. Their final goal was to educate others who were still living in darkness, or ignorance.

The freed man took as many prisoners out of the cave to help them attain knowledge. In addition, upon contemplation of these steps, one may make the following philosophical reasoning: perception of reality is learned through our observations. In comparison, Douglass was eager to seek freedom and got himself to New York. However, he did not end his journey there but fought for the rights of those stilled enslaved. In addition, he eventually wrote about life story to educate others and to motivate others to stand up for equality.

Plato and Douglass came from different time periods in history, along with different styles of text. Plato represented his text philosophically and allegorically but the literature that Douglass represented was presented in non-fictional and historical context. However, the time period did not affect the perspectives towards human beings. “Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave” and Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave showed their respective audience how the idea in relation to ignorance, education, and the way of perceiving of the reality is similar.

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