What are effective  images and symbols that could be used to illustrate the theme of reality vs unreality?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One image that could represents reality and unreality would be television.  The standard television show is one in which there is clear resolution in a fixed amount of time, with commercials for advertisers to endorse their products.  Television constructs reality in a manner where there is little in way of complexity and challenge.  Even the advent of reality television relies on scripts, dramatic music, and product placement.  Television is an example of unreality, an image that reminds the individual that reality is far more complex and far more challenging than what the media wishes to depict it.  Television is an image of unreality because it can be easily controlled by those in the position of power in order to transmit what reality is accepted to be.

Another image that could represent reality and unreality is the snow globe.  The snow globe features a world inside it.  Within the world in the snow globe, people are smiling, life is fixed, and happiness is all about.  However, while this happiness is evident inside the snow globe, it is not real.  It is unreal because real life does not penetrate the world inside the snow globe. There is happiness inside the snow globe, but it is not real.  Once again, the vision of perpetual elation and joy is something of the unreal.  Individuals who embrace reality would reject what the snow globe represents because it is not realistic.

Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" is another representation of the real and unreal.  Inside the cave is the darkness and what so many accept as reality is actually far from it.  Outside the cave is where reality lies.  Having the courage to leave the protected and socially accepted construction of the cave is essential to find reality.  There is danger in being able to embrace reality.  It requires moral and ethical courage to leave the cave. However, the reality is that if one seeks reality, one must leave the cave and into the blinding light that is reality.  The cave's image of unreality and the world outside of as reality is another example of an image that displays the dynamic of reality and unreality.