Because people only live once, they desire a happy and successful life, in other words, a “good life. ” To complete this goal of a good life, a majority of society will do nearly everything possible to be comfortable and be happy. The extremes, which people go to in order to achieve what they think is necessary, are merely shadows, or illusions of reality that are believed to lead people to a good life. However, according to the prominent Greek philosopher, Plato, the good life is one in which individuals are not entirely comfortable and happy.
The good ife is one in which they are finding the ultimate truth and becoming open-minded, sometimes forcing them to oppose the norms of society, and escape the shadows. Though it is hard to do, people who abandon the “cave” of false reality and misinterpretation will live a true good life. The people who have escaped the cave have enlightened themselves by thinking against the general population. In Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, The Truman Show by Peter Weir, and “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury, characters are depicted as ones attempting to escape this synthetic life inside of the cave.
Through diction and action, the authors of these stories portray the good life as one dedicated to truly finding enlightenment in society. In Ishmael, David Quinn uses questioning and the denial of truth to find a good life of enlightenment. He uses a story about the Holocaust to emphasize the importance of enlightenment, which will lead people to a good life. “A story in which the Aryan race and the people of Germany in particular had been deprived of their rightful place in the world, bound, spat upon, raped, and ground into the dirt under the heels of the mongrel races, Communists nd Jews.
A story, in which, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, the Aryan race would burst its bonds, wreak vengeance on its oppressors, purify mankind of its defilements, and assume its rightful place as the master of all races” (Quinn 34-35). In this quote and throughout the short story, Quinn explains a story made up by the Germans portraying how the Jews were always the bad people in society and that the killings throughout the Holocaust were completely moral. Even if people living in Germany, did not want to follow Hitler’s rulings against the Jews, hey were held captive to because the majority of the people did.
Hitler was a puppet master, creating shadows for all those inside of the cave to follow. By denying the amount of power had, Quinn To find a good life, these people should have entirely broke free from the majority and escaped their cave of shadows. To further explain his point, Quinn uses word choice and figurative language to further explain his point: “Then he sat back with a sigh that rumbled through the glass like a distant volcano, folded his hands over his central paunch, and gave me a long, inscrutable look.
And you, an intelligent and moderately well-educated person, would have me believe that this isn’t a myth” (52). The words in this statement bring a very negative tone to the idea that the narrator is not yet enlightened. Using the figurative language of “rumbled through the glass like a distant volcano” strongly expresses Ishmael’s anger. This creation story can be used to exhibit the opposite of a good life in other stories too. Throughout The Truman Show, the producer also creates a story, or an entirely fake production of Truman’s life, portraying the lack of insight.
A true good life is ne outside of this cave of fake productions. However, Characters display a good life as one in a completely controlled environment, hidden from reality, where they are most comfortable. The Truman Show puts the Holocaust story, written by Ishmael, into play. For example, Christof, the producer, interjects Marlon, Truman’s best friend, to feed him lines: “The point is, I [Marlon] would gladly step in front of traffic for you Truman. And the last thing I would ever do to you… [Cristof feeding Marlon his lines]. is lie to you” (The Truman Show).
The act of Cristof feeding Marlon his lines evidently hows how fake people can be. In today’s society, having a best friend, or even a friend, truly means something in people’s lives. Truman spent his entire life with just a shadow of a friend, someone that was actually forced to act in this story. Marlon was a bad person, as he was one of Truman’s shadows because he didn’t let him grow or come out of the cave. When Truman was not outside of the bubble and still living his fake reality, he was never able to learn and grow as a human being.
The story’s good life limits everybody in this story, including the actors being eld captive by the producer, leading them away from enlightenment. Therefore, the true good life is one outside of this bubble. In “The Veldt,” Bradbury uses the psychologist’s actions and words to reveal the Hadleys’ lack of a good life. Throughout the story, a good life is portrayed as a really happy, easy life entirely relying on the use of technology. Although it is an easy life, it is definitely not a good life. The psychologist, David McClean, contests George Hadley by yelling, “You’d starve if something went wrong in your kitchen” (Bradbury 22).
Without the extreme technology that the Hadleys’ are using, they would not know how to do the simple task of cooking. A lack of knowing how to do something, like simply frying an egg, leads the Hadleys’ away from a good life, as defined by Plato. And, although it is out of the Hadleys’ comfort zone to live in a life without technology, it will lead them to a better life. The danger of over relying on technology is further proven when David McClean suggests to eliminate the nursery: “My advice to you is to have the whole damn room torn down and your children brought to me every day during the next year for reatment…
The room has become a channel toward-destructive thoughts, instead of a release away from them” (Bradbury 22). The words in this statement bring a very negative tone to the idea of the veldt, as well as the entire story. Words like “damn room” and destructive thoughts” further prove that Bradbury does not support the idea of having a complete reliance on technology. The overuse of technology has and will lead to many larger problems throughout the family. The negativity used to describe an overreliance of technology and a lack of enlightenment clarifies Bradbury’s good life.
Bradbury, Quinn, and Weir all depict the good life as one in which people are trying to find enlightenment in society. The characters in all three stories experience difficulty in being enlightened because of the false reality they are a part of. This false reality is created by the shadows in each of the stories, which prevents the characters from finding enlightenment by giving them a fake perception of what the truth is. Society gets people to believe the good life as one where they find comfort and pleasure, but it brings them farther from the good life.