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Comparing The Maze Runner And Platos Allegory Of The Cave Essay

As seen through James Dashner’s novel, The Maze Runner, and Plato’s allegory, “The Allegory of the Cave,” enlightenment can be a grueling yet eye-opening experience that could potentially be better uncovered than not. In “The Allegory of the Cave,” the prisoner has no recollection of his past, and all he knows is what is inside the cave. When he is able to escape the cave and become enlightened about reality, he is not initially capable of fully grasping his surroundings. When he returns, the other prisoners are angered by his epiphany of the truth.

Knowing about the prisoner’s journey to enlightenment can help to further understand the journey Thomas must make in The Maze Runner. Thomas, the protagonist of the novel, is trapped in a world, know as the Glade, that is being falsely portrayed as reality by scientist who are conducting an experiment. Thomas is struggling to accept the world he lives inside the Glade is the “real world. ” Throughout The Maze Runner, Thomas is seeking to uncover a better understanding of what true reality is, as is the prisoner in “Allegory of the Cave. Similarities between “The Allegory of the Cave” and The Maze Runner can be seen through the character’s surroundings and memory of the past, inability to initially become enlightened due to physical barriers, and characters who exhibit a fear of enlightenment. “The Allegory of the Cave” and The Maze Runner each share many similarities between character’s surroundings and recollection of the past.

In the allegory, the prisoner is in an “underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave” (Plato1). The prisoner is excluded from the world and held nside the cave. Comparably, Thomas is in “a vast enormous four walls,” know as the Glade (Dashner 23). Similar to the prisoner, Thomas is trapped inside these four walls, and what is inside these four walls is all Thomas knows about reality. In “The Allegory of the Cave,” Plato writes, “… here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move… ” (1). The prisoners in the cave have experienced life outside of the cave, but they have been there since such a young age and have not been able to leave the cave since.

Due to this, the cave is all they can remember. In The Maze Runner, Thomas enters the Glade and, “… he did not know where he came from or how he had gotten inside the [Glade)” (Dashner 17). Thomas has no recollection of his surroundings or past outside of being in the Glade. Others with Thomas in the Glade state, “[they] have never been outside the Glade” because the Glade is all they remember (Dashner 17). Thomas is blinded to the truth about his life, and the Glade has replaced true reality, just as the prisoners are trapped inside the cave are unable to achieve enlightenment.

Through connections between characters and their surroundings, “The Allegory of the Cave” and The Maze Runner both describe characters who are initially unable to discover true enlightenment because they are trapped in a false perception of reality. Similarities between the allegory and the novel can also be identified through the character’s inability to initially comprehend reality. Enlightenment can be extremely difficult to initially grasp, as see through the prisoner and Thomas. Each experiences an initial lack of ability, due to physical barriers, to attain enlightenment about reality.

In “The Allegory of the Cave” it is stated, “… e’s forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities” (Plato 1). The sun is a physical barrier blinding the prisoner from grasping reality. Plato continues to write, “He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves” (1). The prisoner must slowly overcome the blinding sun in order to attain enlightenment.

In The Maze Runner, Thomas witnesses someone undergoing “the changing. ” This is what happens to those who, after escaping to the outside of the Glade, experience a “painful unconsciousness” (Dashner 91). This is due to the lethal venom of a Griever, “an experiment gone terribly wrong-something from a nightmare. Part animal, part machine... ” (Dashner 261). Anyone who tries to escape the Glade will face a hindrance when reaching for enlightenment. Physical barriers prevent the prisoner and Thomas from attaining true understanding of reality. Newt from The Maze Runner says, “[the changing] brings back memories.

Just little snippets, but definite memories of before we came to this horrible place” (Dashner 305). Gradually, Thomas recognizes that once someone can overcome the changing, they will be able to slowly remember their true perception of reality that was held before obtaining a false perception of reality upon entering the Glade. The prisoner and Thomas have to overcome physical barriers in order to attain enlightenment. Finally, similarities between “The Allegory of the Cave” and The Maze Runner can be identified through different character’s unwillingness and fear towards becoming enlightened.

An accurate awareness of reality can be difficult to grasp if it sways from the reality one has always perceived as true. This can be seen in “The Allegory of the Cave” and The Maze Runner because each exhibit characters who are reluctant to become aware of true reality. Plato writes, “Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death” (1).

The prisoners who were unable to experience enlightenment desire to put the enlightened prisoner to death because they would rather be ignorant to the truth than accept a new reality. Characters in The Maze Runner experience this same fear of truth and enlightenment. Thomas is encouraged to remain ignorant to the truth when Gally says to him, “Don’t go back to the read world Thomas! You don’t… want… to remember! ” (Dashner 510). Those in the Glade with Thomas want him to continue to reside in the Glade because, to them, it is easier to live in ignorant bliss rather than to experience the lightenment.

Thomas contemplates this idea himself when he says, ” Are they changed because they want to go back to their old life, or is it because they’re so depressed at realizing their old life was no better than what we have now” (Dashner 306). Thomas recognizes the fear his friends have about escaping the Glade, and fear of a true perception of reality it what holds them back. The prisoners’ experience is similar to that of Thomas because characters discourage them from stepping into the light and become aware of the true reality.

The “Allegory of the Cave,” written by Plato, can be used as a tool to interpret The Maze Runner and the struggles Thomas experiences. Multiple parallels can be identified between the prisoner and Thomas as both characters seek enlightenment. Plato and Dashner acknowledge how difficult initially attaining enlightenment can be, and accepting what one has learned through enlightenment can be. Enlightenment is a prominent theme throughout “The Allegory of the Cave” and The Maze Runner.

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