Exploring Plato's Cave Through Camus Essay

848 words - 3 pages

Many philosophers have explored the idea of enlightening one's mind through the acceptance of the inalienable truths of justice, beauty, and essential goodness. Arguably the greatest thinker to delve into this complex subject matter Plato, who through the use of his parable, "The Allegory of the Cave", presents us with a unique perspective on learning and making the journey from ignorance to enlightenment. In this interesting piece of literature Plato compares enlightening one's mind to a prisoner who has been living his life in the darkness of a cave who liberates himself from the shadows to see a brave new world, one full of light and new experiences. On a metaphorical level, this journey into the world outside represents one's voyage from ignorance into knowledge and goodness, or as Plato called it, `enlightenment'. Similarly, Daru in Albert Camus's short story The Guest also lives in the dark confines of ignorance, only to have his eyes opened to the light of truth and justice by the arrival of a mysterious prisoner. Claiming to be a teacher himself, Daru (like the prisoner's of the cave) is in fact a victim of his own ignorance. As the story progresses we begin to see a marked change in him, until finally in the story's conclusion his full voyage from the darkness to the light is complete.

Plato in his Allegory of the Cave describes the existence of a group prisoners shackled far beneath the earth's surface in a cave of darkness. On a metaphorical level, Plato contends that the men are chained by the weight of their own ignorance, and it is such that keeps them from seeing the light of the outside world, or as Plato calls it, `enlightenment'. Similarly, the chief character in Albert Camus's The Guest is also a victim of such self-imposed bindings. Daru is a schoolteacher who lives in his classroom in Algeria during a time of civil unrest. There he enjoys his solitude and his separation from reality, paying little or no heed to the outside world. His solitary existence is threatened by the arrival of Balducci, a military officer, and his quiet Arab prisoner who is guilty of murder. The officer essentially thrusts the prisoner into Daru's hands, instructing him to deliver the Arab to the local prison. Though he feels a "sudden wrath against the man" because of his crime Daru openly refuses, repeating to Balducci several times that he won't "hand him over." This illustrates Daru's refusal to act...

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