Compare And Contrast Jonathan Livingstone Seagull And The Myth Of The Cave

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A young seagull who loves to fly is banished from his flock, but after mastering flight, returns to share these new discoveries with his old flock. A man kept imprisoned in a dark cave is introduced to the outside world, and later returns to the cave to tell his fellow prisoners about it. On the surface, both Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach and “The Myth of the Cave” by Plato have almost childishly simple plots. In both, a character leaves his home, learns something, and returns. However, these stories gain a deeper significance when the reader views them as allegories. An allegory is like an extended metaphor; it is a seemingly simple story in which every character, place, and event has a deeper symbolic meaning. With this viewpoint,…show more content…
In particular, the return of the main character to his former home has numerous symbolic parallels. The return of Jonathan to his flock and the return of the freed prisoner to the cave are alike primarily in the makeup of the character’s former group, the process of the return, and the underlying message. One of the most remarkably similar points in Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and “The Myth of the Cave” is the makeup of the group the main character leaves and afterward returns to. In both stories, this former group is concerned only with the immediate issues of life and does not have any higher purpose. Whereas Jonathan Seagull sees flight as the very reason for life, the other gulls in his flock use flight only as a means to obtain food, and stay alive longer. Similarly, Plato tells that the prisoners in the cave are “chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them,” thus they are unable to see the truths of the outside…show more content…
Plato makes it clear that the freed prisoner would “endure anything, rather than think as they [the prisoners] do and live after their manner” (3). In a parallel passage, Bach tells that Jonathan enjoyed the higher plane of existence because instead of being surrounded by hostile gulls, in the higher plane there were “gulls who thought as he thought” (43). However, though they are more comfortable in their disinterested state, they also feel pity for the ones who do not understand as they do. Plato tells that the freed prisoner “remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners”and pitied those still living in the ignorance of the cave (2). Also, Bach says that Jonathan’s one regret in his exile was that “the other gulls refused to believe the glory of flight that awaited them” (25). Because of this commiseration, both Jonathan and the freed prisoner return to the discomforts of ordinary life in order to guide and teach those who are less knowledgeable. Plato emphasizes that the philosophers who the freed prisoner represents must not “remain in the upper world” but must “descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labours” (5). Likewise, Jonathan Seagull leaves his higher plane of existence to instruct
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