Matrix Plato Marx Essay

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Marx, Plato, and the Matrix

There are various dichotomies that are explored in the 1999 film the Matrix including concepts of reality and illusion as well as the relationship between man and machine. The concepts of reality and illusion can be explored through a comparative analysis of Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave," whereas the relationship between man and machine can be explored through comparative analysis of Marx's Communist Manifesto. The Matrix incorporates the concepts of ignorance and knowledge that are found within Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave," as well as integrating the social class dilemma that is outlined in the Communist Manifesto.

There are two distinct ways in which the Matrix can be divided. In order to take Plato's the Allegory of the Cave into consideration, emphasis must be placed on the state of man before he realizes that he or she is a disposable commodity to the machines that run the Matrix. In the film, humans are plugged into the Matrix and with the sole purpose of providing energy to sustain said Matrix. In essence, humans are batteries that fuel the machines' world and ensure that they do not die. As energy sources, humans are not aware of their role within their society and are in fact "programmed" to believe that they are functioning members of society, a mere psychological construct that has been created by machines in order to trick humans into believing that they are leading normal lives (the Matrix). The introduction to "The Allegory of the Cave" describes the unenlightened and unplugged state of humans in the Matrix. In "The Allegory of the Cave," Plato points to the people stuck within the den, or rather those living in ignorance, stating "here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only se before them, being prevented by the chains from turning their heads" (Plato 450). Likewise, the human batteries in the Matrix are metaphorically and literally chained in the darkness. They are forced to live their lives psychologically unrealistic as the Matrix deems fit. Through his rhetoric, Plato establishes that ignorance is unnatural by stating, "You have showing me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners" (450). Similarly, the human batteries in the Matrix are unnatural. Humans are meant to live their lives and be a part of society contributing to it positively, negatively, or not at all. Moreover, because they are forced to be a power source for machines, and are bred to generate energy, they are never given the chance to recognize for themselves their potential. "How can they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their head?" (450). By taking away humanity's free will, the machines have stripped humans of the ability to do anything for themselves and like the people living in Plato's den, they only see what others want them to see. However, that does not mean that there is no hope. An individual in Plato's den and in the Matrix has the opportunity to be enlightened if there is someone to guide an unenlightened and ignorant person into the light.

In the film, Morpheus is representative of an individual that has left the "den" and who seeks to free as many people as possible. Morpheus can be seen as a founder of a new State and believes that it is his duty to "compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which [has] already shown to be the greatest of all ... [and] must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good" (455). Neo "is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he is forced into the presence of the sun" by Morpheus who is on a mission to find the proverbial chosen one that will lead others into the light (451). As such, one of the people that he frees from the Matrix is Neo, who must "suffer sharp pains" and must adjust to his new reality before he accepts it as truth. Yet, not everyone is content with being pulled into the light and is compelled to return to the dark. For example, Cypher in the Matrix cannot bear the reality into which he is…[continue]

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