Parable Of The Cave And Road Not Taken Essay

Taking the High Road “The unexamined life is not worth living,” In The
Apology, Socrates relates that the most important goal in life is the
improvement of the soul. We should search others, our environment, and ourselves
so that we may come to a better understanding of the world. The Parable of the
Cave tells of the journey that Socrates was trying to relate, in that each
person is faced with different realities as we travel to try and reach “the
intellectual world.” This journey of enlightenment draws close parallels to
another piece of literature by Robert Frost. In his poem “The Road Not
Taken,” he describes how he felt as he came upon the fork in the road and
chose to take the road less traveled “and that has made all the
difference.” The use of life as a journey is nothing new to literature, but
with Plato and Frost both show that this journey is not easy and there are many
choices along the way that we must make that will determine the quality of the
life we will lead. The main factor that drew me to the Parable of the Cave was
the way it described our journey through life. It begins by telling us that the
reality we initially see when we are chained down in the cave is nothing more
than an illusion. This is true in my own life in that I was told by my parents
what was right and what was wrong without questioning the reason behind it. They
kept a chain of sorts around me so that I was not harmed by all of the realities
of the world at once, but rather gradually introduced to them as I grew up. As
we are released from bondage, our reality is immediately changed. When we first
look toward the light we “will suffer sharp pains;” as we try to
adjust to this new reality that is suddenly thrown upon us. The bondage that we
experienced in the beginning is no longer there and the full weight of the world
is pressed down on us without the help of others and now responsibility for our
own actions becomes the controlling factor in our life. The light that first
shocked us into reality now causes you to come to a crossroads in life. Looking
directly at the light will cause some pain and suffering, but offers a
“clearer vision” or “turn away and take refuge in the objects of
vision which he can see” and return to the reality of which he was
accustomed, but is only an illusion. Many people are scared to face reality and
would rather turn back to the shelter that they are comfortable with.

Independence and freedom are things these people could live without, so long as
they had someone to lead them. Unfortunately, the majority of people fall into
this category. They become sheep and require a shepherd to guide them through
their lives. The others who can overcome the blinding light are able to ask of
themselves what they are trying to accomplish in their lifetime. They may make
mistakes along the way, but because they had the strength to try, are able to
learn from those mistakes and become more intelligent as they age. Those that
never leave the depths of the cave remain in an illusion. “Ignorance is
bliss,” and these people never want to have to struggle with their lives,
but would rather remain without the responsibility the new knowledge would bring
them if they were to walk towards the light. The light allows us to see things
more clearly and this is the goal that we are trying to reach in our lifetime,
but are almost assured of failing. Why then should you constantly fight toward
this goal over adversity and hardship only to fail in the end? The journey is
the most important part of the trip, not the destination. The things learned
along the way will make your life more fulfilling and enjoyable. The Parable of
the Cave shows how this journey can be related to our own lives and the
struggles we face throughout our lifetime. The journey talked of in The Parable
of the Cave has many parallels with the poem by Robert Frost entitled “The
Road Not Taken.” The last line of the poem reads, “I took the road not
taken and that has made all the difference.” The road usually taken is the
easy road, the road that is the most comfortable to us. This road keeps us
ignorant because we never seek to gain more knowledge by searching and asking
questions. I chose to represent the Parable of the Cave by visually showing the
poem by Frost. It begins on a road that is surrounded by foliage. This acts to
shelter you from the harmful world. The foliage shelters you until you come to a
fork in the road. The road ahead of you is clear of any obstacles for as far as
you can see. The other road to your right begins with a hill and you can not see
what lies ahead. At this fork you must make a decision to continue straight
ahead on the clear path, or take a chance and climb that hill to see what is on
the other side. The clear path is representative of the path that most people
will take, the easy road. This road continues with no obstacles because that is
what you have seen all of your life and are comfortable with this arrangement.

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Taking this road would be the same as returning to the depths of the cave once
you were blinded by the light. The road to the right represents the continuance
toward the light at the cave mouth discussed by Plato. This road had obstacles
that will impede your path and slow you down, but do not stop you from
continuing on to the end. The hills are the trials we must face in life if we
are trying to obtain knowledge. The knowledge does not come without
consequences, however, and you must go through trying times (whether it be
self-examination, examination of others, or examination of the environment
around you) before you can move ahead. Whichever road we decide to take, the end
result is the same, death. The roads lead to the same destination, but the paths
to that destination are very different. This is representative of the course of
life that each of us must take, some paths are easier than others, but the more
difficult path leads to a more fulfilling life. The Parable of the Cave shows
the major steps in life that we are all faced with. Those who choose to turn
away from the light would not lead a fulfilling life in the eyes of Plato or
Socrates. Those that choose to continue toward the light take all the
responsibility that comes with that choice. By continuing toward the light they
continue to enlightenment. In order to reach enlightenment, we must question
ourselves and our motives and in doing so will face more trying and pressing
times than those who choose to return to a place that they are comfortable with.

Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” very much parallels the thoughts
expressed by Plato. We are faced with many choices in life. The fork in the road
represents those choices we are faced with and once they are made, there is no
turning back. The mistakes made along the way may cause use to stumble or slow
down, but the journey to the end is much more fulfilling if we are willing to
take the road less traveled, for it too could “make all the


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