John Livingstone Seagull By Richard Bach And The Myth Of The Cave Essay

John Livingstone Seagull By Richard Bach And The Myth Of The Cave Essay

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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, both stories acquire a new but still similar meaning. 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 ou...


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...eople (5). Jonathan even gives up his own pursuit of knowledge so that the earthly gulls will have a chance to understand as he does. Whether the moral takes shape in Jonathan’s tutelage of the earthly gulls or in the leadership of Plato’s philosophers, it holds the same crucial lesson.
In conclusion, the apparently simple plot lines of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and “The Myth of the Cave” conceal a message of far greater significance. Through the makeup of the character’s former group, the process of the character’s return, and the message of the stories, both of these allegories teach a valuable lesson about the importance of sharing one’s knowledge. If readers consider the parallels between Jonathan Livingston Seagull and “The Myth of the Cave,” they will gain a fuller understanding of both works, as well as a novel perspective on the their own purpose in life.

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