Up this morning, reading and thinking about The Allegory of the Cave by Plato (from the Republic, book VII).
Reading Plato over my lifetime, has, I guess, had a lasting effect on my little brain.
And not only on my pea brain, the Allegory has had a huge impact on how people in the West thinking.
The reason I am thinking about it this morning is George E. Connor’s essay, “Spelunking with Ray Bradbury: the Allegory of the Cave in Fahrenheit 451. ” (found in Harold Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations Series.
Connor describes a six part division of the Allegory which confused me so much that I looked once again at Plato.
Thanks to the miracle of the modern interwebs, I had downloaded a free clean version of Plato’s Republic to my Kindle within minutes. My Plato is upstairs near the bed and I didn’t want to disturb Eileen.
Reading through the beginning of Book VII and then re-reading Connor’s section on a six part division of the story led me to conclude that Connor’s presentation was not that clear.
He is working towards finding characters in Plato’s allegory that he can relate to Bradbury’s story. Unfortunately Plato’s exposition in my reading has more to do with how Socrates is continuing to drive home a point by telling the cave story.
For what it’s worth, here are Connor’s six divisions (if I have them correct).
1. The allegory begins with those bound in the cave who can only see shadows on the wall
2. Behind them are the “puppeteers” who are casting the shadows as they move
3. Then he weirdly leaps ahead in Plato to mention the “madmen” who would kill the returning enlightened person who would free them and take them into the light
4. THEN he talks about the initial escape made by a person who is drawn into the light
5. He cites another author who says that their must have been a “guide” to draw this person out of the cave
6. The final division is the return to the cave of the enlightened
I’m still reading the essay. The dang book is due in a few days, but it’s not that hard to begin to see how Connor is going to spelunk Bradbury.
Montag has got to be the enlightened dude, Clarisse is probably the guide, the firemen, Montag’s wife and her friends have to be the madmen, Beatty and the unseen hand of the government might be the puppeteers, and so on.
I especially like the the idea of relating the burning fire in the cave and the burning in the book. Probably not his point.