Comparing Plato's Republic And Frederick Douglass

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Often times, it is assumed that learning does not have negative consequences and leads to one’s enlightenment What people don’t realize is that being thrown into the light can burn. Associating learning with pain is clearly illustrated in both Plato’s Republic and Frederick Douglass’ The Education of Frederick Douglass. Both works represent people who move past their ignorance through the acquisition of knowledge and step into the light, both literally and metaphorically; they become aware of their own situations and with that comes pain. Book seven of Plato’s Republic (trans. 1968) presents the allegory of the cave and the idea that learning isn’t always pleasant. The story begin with men bound in a cave, facing the wall. Between the men and …show more content…

The allegory of the cave contains a very poignant message about learning and new experiences but it’s not real. It’s written as Socrates telling a story in order to illustrate his point. The first man is forcibly removed from the cave and shown the light, creating a painful experience. Douglass’ story is autobiographical and it shows a true need for knowledge in order to be free from the bondage of slavery. He has no choice other than to learn and be in pain. Even though the first man is dragged from the cave, he can go back. He has time to adjust to the pain and the choice not the experience the pain at all. Douglass, on the other hand, has no choice due to the oppression that African Americans faced. Not only were they enslaved, but they weren’t treated like humans. Douglass knew that the only way to be treated like a human being -- and eventually become on of the most successful black men of the nineteenth century -- was through learning. Learning can be tough and painful, but it is through the pain that people grow and learn to thrive. Both the man in Plato’s Republic and Frederick Douglass learned to breathe through the pain as they went about their learning experiences. Both works illustrate the idea of enlightenment through learning and how painful the brutal reality of truth is. While one is metaphor and one is autobiographical, they show that if one can learn to get passed the pain, you can free yourself and experience a world you never knew

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