In Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," in what types of activities are the prisoners engaged?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Plato's work, Socrates does not really spend a great deal of time going over the activities of the prisoners while chained inside the cave.  Part of this might be because Socrates does not want to give much in the way of credit to the lives of the prisoners while they are in the cave. This may be because the lives they lead inside the caves are ones that deny the forms, the true essences of being in the world.

The lives they live while in the cave consist of being chained, staring at the cave walls, and watching the shadows of those who toil above them.  The fact is that they are staring at shadows on the wall, and they consider those to be reality. This is what distinguishes them.  This life is one that is something that they have done from childhood. They live their lives in an unacknowledged state.  The activities they engage in are ones where Plato's forms are denied.

They are unable to understand what reality is and what life exists outside the cave.  It is in this light that Socrates does not focus as much attention on the activities of those who are chained inside as the real focus is on the one who escapes the chains of the cave and sees reality for what it is.