The concept of reality in The Matrix and the “Allegory of the Cave’

The movie The Matrix by the Wachowskis and the “Allegory of the Cave” written by Plato both display the process of how one would react to discovering a “new reality”.  The Allegory and The Matrix demonstrates the process of enlightenment. This is shown when a prisoner in a cave is released and he discovers that he has been living in a false reality.   As he explores the new “reality”, the truth, he goes through a process of rejection, adaptation and acceptance.  Similarly, in The Matrix, the main character, Neo discovers that the reality he has been living in is false; he is living in The Matrix created by artificial intelligence. It is a computer simulation where the machines use humans as an energy source.

Neo experiences a similar process as the prisoner in the Allegory when he discovers what he has known isn’t what it seems.  The Allegory and the movie demonstrates how one will react to a “new reality” and how there will be others who will choose to reject the truth.  Neo and the released prisoner display how one may react and adapt when they discover they have been living in a false reality.  The characters go through the initial process of rejection; however, they learn how to adapt to the “new reality”.

In the Allegory, when the prisoner is released he experiences feelings of confusion  because the chains are all the prisoner has ever known and he has no knowledge of anything beyond the cave. The Allegory displays how the prisoner will feel pain as he has been chained since birth: “he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him…”. The pain that he feels is his body reacting to the sudden change and initially his body wants to reject it.  Not only does the prisoner experience pain from being released but also he is irritated by the presence of the sun. He goes from living in a dark cave to experiencing the exposure of light, something he has never seen before.

In The Matrix, Neo is exposed to the world of machines and he becomes sick when he experiences the “ new reality”.  His body initially rejects the change by vomiting but also mentally, Neo wants to go back to when he was unaware of the truth. When he is told about the false reality, Neo’s initial reaction is to deny the truth, he says “ I don’t

believe it.  It’s impossible”.  Similar to the Allegory, Neo experiences pain, he asks, “Why do my eyes hurt?”. It is his eyes adjusting to the light and where he began to see what he was living in The Matrix .

Though both the prisoner and Neo experience the initial feelings of rejection when discovering the truth, over a course of time, they learn how to adapt and to accept the “new reality”. The prisoner slowly becomes accustomed to the “new reality”: “ At first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water…”. In other words, the prisoner recognizes the objects he is familiar with at first such as the shadows from the cave. As he begins to become comfortable he soon notices the sun. He begins to see reality in the sunlight and starts to understand how there is more beyond the cave.

As Neo from The Matrix adapts, he learns how to live in the “new reality” by practicing martial arts and learning how to fight. He begins to observe the crew members and he slowly becomes curious, asking questions about the “new reality”.  Neo starts to understand that everything he believed as real is an illusion similar to the shadows in the Allegory. He recognizes that he can’t reverse what he has learned. Therefore, he accepts the truth, learning to live in the “new reality”. The prisoner and Neo undergo similar processes when they are enlightened about the “new reality”, both facing the initial process of denial but learning to adapt and accept the truth as time passes.