Analysis Of Society in Different Scientifical Works
The Darkness Behind The Light
There will never be such a thing as a perfect human society. Even when they seem perfect on the surface there are always hidden problems that once realized can drastically change your way of thinking. The three societies I will be examining for this will be “The Allegory of the Cave”, by Plato “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, by Urusula LeGuin and The Matrix by Lana and Andy Wachowski. In all three of these stories the citizens are in a world that seems to be a nice place to live, however they are then introduced to the darkness hidden behind the society and must make a choice on what to do with themselves after they learn the truth.
The first step towards seeing the world as it truly exists is by being shown the flaws of your current world, however there are multiple ways to do this. In Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” the prisoners are all chained up on the wall content with just seeing the shadows pass by. “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 […] And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent” (Plato 447). In this story the prisoner is forced to get up and walk out of the cave. He is given no choice in the matter he is simply being taken along for the ride. In contrast to this LeGuin has the flaw revealed in a drastically different way in “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”. In this story there is a child who is locked in a closet and is never let out, we are told that without this child being there the town would not be nearly as happy and as cheerful as it currently is “This is usually explained to children when they are between eight and twelve, whenever they seem capable of understanding […] though often enough an adult comes, or comes back, to see the child” (LeGuin 52). In this world the people, while not knowing what the truth is before seeing it, go willingly and choose to see their town for what it truly is. Last, in The Matrix, by Lana and Andy Wachowski, Neo’s first choice to find whats wrong in the world is that he spends many of his nights searching for the hacker named Morpheus (The Matrix). By doing this not only is he choosing to see whats wrong he is activley seeking out an answer which he does not even know is necessarily there. This seperates this story from either other by the fact that he is doing something that is not socially acceptable to try and see the truth. These are very dramatic differences because people are much more willing to accept bad things when they choose to see them rather than when it is forced upon them by someone else.
After someone has seen that their world isn’t perfect the people need to make a choice of what to do next. In The Matrix Neo contacts the hacker Morpheus and is told that their world is simply a computer program used to harvest energy Neo is presented with two choices from Morpheus “[t]his is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes” (The Matrix). The choice he has to make here is whether he wants to take the hard choice and spend his life trying to fix the problems of the world he is in or the easy choice and just go back to the world he was in and go along with his everyday life. Similarly the prisoner also feels the need to go and help his old friends from the cave “And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them? Certainly, he would […] [i]magine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness? […] And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady […] would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes” (Plato 448-449). In the city of Omelas Most of the people just move on and accept that the one child has to live like it does for the prosperity of the whole city. However this is not the only choice the people have, “[a]t times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go see the child does not go home […] Sometimes also a man or a woman much older falls silent for a day or two, then leaves home. These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas” (LeGuin 53). These people do not choose to fight back like Neo or to just accept it like the others in their city. These people don’t want to ruin all the other citizens happy lives just for this one child, however they also do not want to live in a society where a child’s misery is the only reason the town is so prosperous. So they simply leave never to return to the life that they once considered home but now see it’s true nature.
Often when a character first sees the world for what it is they are not used for it and it feels unnatural or uncomfortable to them. While this fact nearly always stays true there are different methods that many authors and writers use to show this. In Plato’s story the character first sees the real world after he has been dragged out of the cave. This experience is very overpowering to him and it is described as “he is forced into the presence of the sun […] when he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all […] He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And at first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves” (Plato 447). Since he has been trapped inside a cave for so long the sunlight is blinding to the prisoner, however the blindness also plays a more symbolistic view because he had been blind to the entire outside world before and only now is he starting to get used to it. Similarly in The Matrix shortly after Neo takes the red pill he awakens in the chamber that the robots are keeping him in and he says that it hurts whenever he tries to open his eyes, Morpheus then says to him that its because he has never used them (The Matrix). This can also be interpreted both literally and figuratively. While he has literally never used his eyes before, since he has always been in a dream like state, Morpheus also means that he has never opened his eyes to what the world is truly like and this foreshadows that he will have trouble adapting to the new world he has dived into. In “ The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” The Children are often blinded in a very different way after seeing the child locked in the closet, “[o]ften the young people go home in tears, or in a tearless rage, when they have seen the child and faced this terrible paradox. They may brood over it for weeks or years. But as time goes on they begin to realize that even if the child could be released, it would not get much good out of its freedom(LeGuin 52). This shows the children not being blinded literally in any way, they are only being blinded by their emotions, at first they all think they must find a way to fix the problem with their world, but after time just like Neo learns to control his body and the prisoner gets used to the sun they learn that they cannot help the problem and learn to see past it.
All three of these stories have very similar structures but all vary slightly. While these stories were not written with the others in mind they all show a centralized theme that is a very common one within written work. This is due to the fact that our societies are far from perfect and that shows through many writers work when they portray a world not exactly like ours but that at least appears to be similar.
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