Professor Joshua Belknap
There are various similarities and differences between Plato’s “Allegory of the cave” and Frederick Douglass’s “learning how to read”.
One of the similarities between these two readings is the fact that both readings involve the act of slavery. In Plato’s allegory of the cave, the people inside the cave are chained and also made to face the wall, hereby depriving them of seeing the light (Knowledge). In Frederick Douglass situation, he was also a slave, but he wasn’t constrained like the other slaves in Plato’s cave. These two readings also have the same main idea, which is the fact that the slaves from Plato’s cave, and Frederick Douglass, both lived in mental darkness. The lack of education or literacy was the main difficulty in both cases.
There are also some differences between the two readings. In Plato’s allegory of the cave, knowledge is given forcefully and it is received reluctantly by the slave who was dragged out by an unknown person. During this process the slave encounters the light and sees the different beautiful creatures of the earth, this gives the slave an idea of how the outside world looks like, and how it feels to be free. By this encounter, the slave acquires knowledge and then returns to share his knowledge with the other slaves. Also whosoever dragged the slave out of the cave into the light stands as a teacher figure, without the teacher figure in this cave, the slave wouldn’t have gained any knowledge of the outside world. Frederick Douglass case was different, he had a thirst/ lust for knowledge, he made out certain strategic plans to succeed in his search for knowledge, “The plane which I adopted, and the one which I was most successful, was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street.” Frederick Douglass search for knowledge was also dangerous,