Comparing Jonathan Livingston Seagull And The Myth Of The Cave

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Jonathan the Freed Prisoner
Both Jonathan Livingston Seagull (a novel by Richard Bach) and “The Myth of the Cave” (a short story written by the commonly-studied philosopher, Plato) are commonly referred to as allegories. An allegory is a work of art that possesses a hidden moral or political message beneath its actual appearance. In many ways, one could easily interpret both of these superb writings to hold the same meaning. One presentation that holds true to this is that Richard Bach’s character, Jonathan, compares to the prisoner that escapes in Plato’s work, “The Myth of the Cave.” Metaphorically, both of these characters are held as prisoners in their life, but then later are freed and ultimately return to their origin to enlighten others
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In “The Myth of the Cave,” Plato makes it very obvious that his character is released by saying “look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error” (1). Of course, he clearly states the plural form of the word prisoner in this statement. However, the philosopher later continues by describing only one prisoner being led out of the cave and discovering the sun; “and suppose once again he is reluctantly dragged . . . until he is forced of the presence of the sun” (Plato 2). Of course, the author is describing the actual sun in this statement, but one could recall the instances in which Jonathan’s story compares to those particular moments in this story. When the seagull is labeled as Outcast from his fellow flock of gulls, including his own parents, it is stated by many in unison as part of a shaming tradition that, “the brotherhood is broken” signaling his cue to disband from the covey (Bach 25). This moment that is inevitably forced into Jonathan’s life enables him to focus more on his endeavor of mastering the art of flight. He does so later in the story and begins to become a more advanced flier. Once he reaches a certain point, however, two unfamiliar gulls enter the tale and lead him to the sun. Richard Bach writes, “’we’re from your…show more content…
This event takes place for Jonathan only after he finally masters the art of flight and helps teach others in what one could best describe as an alternate plane of existence. In Jonathan Livingston Seagull, one can recall that Sullivan, a friend of the protagonist, is attempting to coerce Jonathan not to go back to his home once the seagull makes the resolve to teach others the beauty of the metaphorical sun he has unearthed through his journey. Jonathan simply rebuttals with, “Sully I must go back,” proving that he feels an immense urge to return to those that he once cared for (Bach 61). A similar happening takes place in Plato’s tale of the prisoner. It’s apparent that the nameless man also feels a strong urge to go back to his prison as well. “And when he remembered his old habitation . . . and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would . . . pity him?” (Plato 2). If one were ever in this predicament, not to say being chained up from birth is the norm, it seems very conceivable that he or she could feel this way. In either story, both the prisoner and the seagull return and it is shown that they are both scorned for their action. This plays a big part in revealing the hidden meaning in both
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