Plato's Allegory of a Cave, Wachowski's Matrix, and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time

Plato's Allegory of a Cave, Wachowski's Matrix, and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time

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Plato's Allegory of a Cave, Wachowski's Matrix, and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time


Plato's Allegory of a Cave is a story about prisoners that are chained underground, who can not see anything except for shadows caste on a wall by a fire. The only thing that these prisoners can see is the shadows of people. Eventually, one of the prisoners breaks free of the chain and ventures out into the real world. In the real world the freed prisoner discovers that the shadows in the cave are created from light diverge off people. He recognizes there is a whole new world filled with light. The freed prisoner is very confused and blinded by the light so he decides to return to the cave. When the prisoner returns to the cave, he shares what he saw in the real world with the other prisoners. The remaining prisoners treat the freed prisoner like he is crazy and they tell the freed prisoner that the real world does not exist. The prisoners in the cave do not believe in the real world because the cave is all that they know exists.

Platos story is a close parallel to the film The Matrix and Marge Piercys Woman on the Edge of Time. Platos theory suggests that masses should be silenced in order to discourage desire because desire leads people to be unjust. Thus, equilibrium is needed to create peace and prevent chaos between two powerful worlds. The parallel of Platos theory can be seen in Marge Piercys Woman on the Edge of Time. The novel is about a chosen person, Connie, and her journey to keep peace between the machine world and the human world. Connie has special communicating powers, in which she is able to contact two completely different future worlds. The first world is a total utopia where Connie communicates with Luciente. The utopian world is a very high spirited, trustworthy, healthy community which is extremely peaceful and relies very little on technology. The world in a dysutopian, is completely controlled by computers, and humans are slave-like to cyborgs. This world is very dirty and the world was completely trashed. Connie lives in the present, where the worlds future is threaten by complete control by machines or a world with no technology. Like the prisoner in Platos story, Connie is shunned by society and put in a mental hospital.

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Society views Connie as a schizophrenic. By labeling Connie with a disease, society is able to deny Connies abilities to know what is possible in the real world. This novel shows Connies importance in aiding the peace between humans and the machine world. Connie was chosen to create equilibrium between the machine and human world just like Neo was chosen in the film The Matrix. In the film The Matrix, Neo is chosen by the Oracle as the One. The present world is threatened by a program or Agent known as Smith. Smith is trying to turn society into a complete dystopian controlled by machines.

It is Neos job to prevent Smith from gaining too much power in the world. Smith is a negative force to Neo, who is a positive. Without the other, neither could exist. Neo was an outcast in society just like Connie and the prisoner. Neo was a computer hacker who knew that the matrix Pacal3 existed but he was not sure of it. Neo first learns of the matrix from Morpheus, who describes the matrix like a splinter, you can feel it, you know its there, but you cant explain it. The matrix controls everything. What people and society think is real, isnt really real. When Connie and Neo both learn of these future worlds controlled by machines, they both deny the reality of these horrific futures. But once they understood their purpose, they were driven to fight the machine. This parallels the Allegory of a Cave. And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -- what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -- will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him? (Plato). This shows just shows that the chosen one will encounter problems and the new things that they will learn will be confusing at first. The Chosen one needs to except the changes and learn from everything. Learning is a difficult task when it goes in contradiction of everyday theory. People are to expect difficulties and struggles which may seem painful. However, in the end these new experiences and knowledge will take you far in life. In The Matrix, after Neo accepts the matrix for what it is, he must go through test to restore his muscles. When he first wakes up he exclaims, why do my eyes hurt? then Morpheus replies, That is because you have never used them before. This symbolizes Neos rebirth into the matrix. He learns of the real world and is about to go through many painful endurances to learn how to fight the matrix. He needs to prepare himself for what lies ahead of him. Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being or in other words, of the good (Plato). This shows that one must put a considerable amount of effort into learning.

When Connie meets Luciente for the first time, Connie is taken by surprise and questions the reality of what she is learning. Luciente tries to explain to Connie that some problems you solve only if you stop being human, become metal, plastic, robot computer. Is dying itself a problem?(Piercy 118). This shows Luciente explaining to Connie that technology lacks human emotions. Humans thrive with emotions and need them in everyday life. Connie has been committed to a mental hospital. This is where doctors are experimenting with brain control operations. Connie must fight against these operations in order to help prevent a total dystopian future. Luciente explains to Connie, Its that race between technology, in the service of those who control, and insurgency those who want to change the society in our direction. In your time, physical sciences had delivered the weapons of technology. Control of genetics. Technology of brain control, (Piercy 215). The struggle to prevent the machine from full control over society, lies in the hands of the chosen ones, Neo and Connie. Barbarossa in Woman on the Edge of Time said it best, We could put it: at certain cruxes of history forces are in conflict. Technology is imbalanced. Too few have too much power. Alternate futures are equally or almost equally probable and that affects the shape of time (Piercy 189). This just show that both worlds, a machine and human, need to coexist. Without one you can not have the other, like a positive and negative. In the Matrix, Neo is out to destroy Smith. In Women on the Edge of Time, Connie is out to destroy the doctors who are engaged in total brain control. We must fight to come to exist, to remain in existence, to be the future that happens (Piercy 190). Platos theory suggests that masses should be silenced in order to discourage desire because desire leads people to be unjust. Thus, equilibrium is needed to create peace and prevent chaos between two powerful worlds. Platos Allegory of a Cave is a story of prisoners in a cave. One prisoner is able to break free and see the real world. He returns to find that he creates confusion in the cave. This story parallels The Matrix and Woman on the Edge of Time. Both stories concern a chosen person to fight against a coexisting real world which is controlled by human beings. The chosen one is need to create peace and equilibrium. If everybody knew in society about the horrific future of the machine world, then there would be mass chaos and confusion. I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner (Plato). This quote shows how it is better to leave things be and continue with a mundane life than to create problems. To sum everything up: let sleeping dogs lie.
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