Comparing Plato's Allegory Of The Cave And Las Meninas

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Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and Diego Velazquez’ Las Meninas are both commentaries about different ways of life. Velazquez gives insight into the daily life of the Spanish monarchy, and Plato, on the other hand, enlightens about the various stages of life on the path to higher knowledge. Though they use different mediums, Plato and Velazquez use a similar framework to illustrate the ways people live. They both use a hierarchical structure to divide their works into pieces that make the works more straightforward for the reader or viewer to comprehend. In the “Allegory of the Cave”, Plato breaks the story into four main scenes to demonstrate the path to enlightenment for the unenlightened reader. He uses a story of a man trapped in a cave,…show more content…
In the picture, handmaidens are attending to Margarita Teresa, the daughter of the Spanish monarchy. Compared to the handmaidens who are dressed in far less exquisite attire, have dark hair, and almost blurred faces, Margarita looks like true royalty. Even the lighting on Margarita, compared to the lack thereof of the handmaidens, lets the viewer know which young girl is of high status. The inclusion of a dwarf as a handmaiden also heightens the implied sense of superiority in the royal family, since the family completely healthy compared to the handicap of the maiden. Two people are portrayed with more power than Margarita are her father, the king, and Velazquez. A painter including himself in a portrait is uncommon, but including himself in a royal portrait is even bolder. Velazquez is stating his placement among the court. Though he is behind Margarita and in worse lighting, it is debatable that he is the second most important character in the scene. Velazquez his the power to not only be among royalty, but to give the average person a ticket to see life in the Spanish court through his work. The king is debatably the most important and powerful figure in the painting. The king is only seen in this painting through the reflection of a mirror because the work is meant to be from his point of view. Velazquez gives the viewer a glimpse at life in the royal court through the eyes of the figure at the top of the hierarchy. He is able to see all the classes omnipotently in this portrait from his view at the top. The hierarchy
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