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Questions: Allegory of the Cave

The Crucible is an allegory for McCarthyism in the 1950s. You may have also read other allegories such as Animal Farm. This text is
one of the original allegories. Your job is to figure out what this story of the cave represents about humanity. Good luck!

Identify the following folks and terms:
1) Allegory A story, poem, or
picture with an underlying
2) Plato He was a philosopher and
mathematician in the ancient
Greece society who was a
follower of Socrates
3) Socrates Philosopher in ancient
Greece who was put to death for
his beliefs.
4) Socratic Method/Dialogue The
Socratic method is a teaching
method in which people ask
questions and people continually
build off of them, causing the
brain to think more.

Quick Reading Questions:
Answer the following questions. Your answers can be bullet pointed or written like notes (does not need to be written in
complete sentences). The purpose of these questions is to ensure that you understand the meaning of the writing.

1) Knowing the meaning of the Socratic Method, why do a good portion of Socrates statements end in question marks?
His statements end in question marks so that the reader may think to answer them, causing the brain to be stimulated even
more than when just simply reading the passage.
2) What is the name of the main speaker in this tale according to the introductory notes? Is it Plato?
The speakers name is Socrates. He was Platos mentor and Platos writings were all tributes to him.
3) Describe OR Draw how the people in the cave are situated in Plato's parable. Make sure to include the: cave, humans in the
cave, chains, fire, the shadows casted on the caves wall, and humans outside the cave. Then explain why they can't move their
legs or necks to take a look around? What is the only thing they are capable of seeing? What is their only source of light?
The people in the cave are facing a wall from the floor to the ceiling, and directly behind them is another wall about waist
high. Behind this wall which is behind the prisoners is a fire, and people are constantly walking by this fire. Whenever
someone walks by the fire, a shadow is cast upon the wall in front of the prisoners. They are all chained together and
therefore cannot turn around to see what is going on. They can only see the shadows with the fire behind them as their
source of light.
4) What do these prisoners trapped in the cavern believe is real?
The prisoners believe that the actual shadows passing by are real.
5) How do the prisoners react when they first see sunlight?
Plato states that the prisoner is pained within his eyes by the sunlight and is forced to turn around and realize the unrealities
of the cave. Their eyes are therefore opened by the sunlight.
6) Why will the prisoner need time to adjust to the world outside the cave?
Prisoners will need time to adjust because when one comes out of the dark after a long time, the light becomes very blinding.
Possibly the experience is very overwhelming as it is a shock to their current reality.
7) According to Plato, how would the people in the cave react to an escapee who tried to explain the truth to them, or who came
down and broke their chains to set them free?
They would ridicule the escapee and not believe a word he would say because theyd be too caught up in their false reality to
believe him.
8) What does the allegory suggest about the process of enlightenment or education? With this in mind, what is the importance of
intellectual freedom?
This allegory suggests that only a select few are chosen to understand the ideas behind enlightenment. These few are the ones
who have seen the light. They then attempt to persuade others to see the value and truth behind enlightenment ideas, and
they are often ridiculed due to this. This highlights the importance of intellectual freedom. A person with intellectual freedom
has an advantage over others which is often times uncomprehendable to the average person.

Analysis Questions:
Select ONE of the questions below and answer it in paragraph form. Your answer should be at minimum six sentences
long, utilizing at least two quotes to prove your position. Do not forget the FULL STRUCTURE METHOD: topic
sentence, quote, analysis, quote, analysis, wrap-up.

9) Consider the song The Cave from todays class. Select a line from the song and explain whether Mumford and Sons cave is
similar or different to Platos. Your answer should use a quote from each of the texts.
In The Crucible, John Proctor attempts to prove that the witchcraft trial accusers are believing a false
reality; similar to how the individual who escaped from the cave in Socrates allegory attempted to save those
who were caught up in the false reality of the cave. He does this by going against the court and even putting
his own life on the line in the very end. John Proctor recognizes the innocence of many of the people accused
of witchcraft and takes action to clear their names: I blacken all of them when this is nailed to the church the
very day they hang for silence(Miller 132). Proctor creates a voice for the people who remained silent when
given the opportunity to confess. John Proctors attempt to reveal the truth is analogous to Socrates The
Allegory of the Cave. When comparing these works, it is very clear that John Proctor represents the person
who emerged from the cave, while the accusers and judicial system within Salem represent those trapped in
These two writings are perfectly linked in a verse from The Cave by Mumford and Sons when the
listener pictures John Proctor as the voice behind the song: So come out of your cave walking on your hands,
and see the world hanging upside down. It makes sense when thinking of this verse through the mindset of
John Proctor because he would be speaking to the people of Salem as though they were stuck in the cave. By
telling them to come out of the cave walking on their hands, John would be encouraging the people to see the
truth behind the trials rather than their own upside down point of view. However, similarly to the events that
take place in The Allegory of the Cave, in Proctors situation, the people do not listen to his advice of coming
out to the real world.