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“The Truman Show”, a film that visualizes the idea of a man’s life being recorded for the public eye without his knowledge, has strong connections and exemplifies the ways of knowing throughout its entirety. To begin, the ways of knowing are language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory. The following are going to be discussed thoroughly and connected to the movie’s context: emotion, reason, and sense perception. Throughout the movie, there are many instances that refer to three specific ways of knowing. The film, also, has a wide range of similarities to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. The film, “The Truman Show”, excellently exemplifies three ways of knowing: sense perception, intuition, and memory; additionally, it contains an abundance of similarities with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
One of the most prominent ways of knowing detected from the movie was emotion. Emotion can be defined as “ll those feelings that so change men as to affect their judgements” (Aristotle 384 BC). The use of emotions can manipulate the way people think. For example, in the beginning, Truman says he wants to travel, and the teacher warns him of the dangers. The teacher creates fear that results in Truman staying on the island. Once Truman begins unraveling the truth, he is manipulated to believe otherwise. Throughout the movie, Truman begins to doubt his world’s normality and goes to converse his best friend about his feelings. The conversation between Truman and Marlon, the best friend, contains the use of emotion to manipulate Truman’s perspective. Truman begins by saying, “I don’t know what to think, Marlon. (…) Everybody seems to be on it”. Marlon takes this moment to bring nostalgia to make Truman remember their relationship and how they’ve grown together. To make it more emotionally impactful, he responds “The point is, I would gladly step in front of traffic for you, Truman, and the last thing I would ever do is lie to you”, bringing a feeling of guilt in Truman for accusing him on being on it. The statement affected Truman as, it can be seen, he is on the verge of crying. As a result of this conversation and manipulation of his emotions, Truman decides to forget about his gut feeling and believe his best friend.
Another way of knowing prominently present was sense perception. Sense perception can be defined as “…the way a person uses and understands their senses” (“The Ways of Knowing”, 2015). The senses included are: sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste; however, the sense being manipulated the most in the film is the sense of sight. Throughout the beginning of the movie, Truman lives a ‘normal’ life based on his standards created by his perception of the world. He perceives the world, what has been presented in a specific way by the show’s director, through his eyes without question (referring to the beginning of the world). He was able to believe in this artificial world because he hadn’t encountered any difference. Truman, in the entirety of his life, has been accustomed to a world that has been manipulated to show Truman a mimicry of reality. This quote from the film capsules the relationship between Truman and his knowledge gathered from his environment, “We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented” (The Truman Show). H Even though, Truman accepted the reality, that he was presented with at the beginning, he was able to uncover the truth through reasoning. Reason can be defined as “the process of thinking about something in a logical way in order to form a conclusion or judgment” (Webster Dictionary). An important phrase in this definition is forming a conclusion or judgment, as in the film, Truman creates conclusions from his own observations and his love interest’s confession. The clues begin with his dead fathers’ appearance, where Truman gets a trace of suspicion of the artificial world, he is living in. Then, the picture of his wedding shows a discrepancy in his wife’s fingers. He enters an elevator that is an actual set and he questions the situation. From all the events, he is led to figure out and conclude the reality of his life, his world isn’t real. Once Truman begins to act out trying to be spontaneous, he is certain that something is out of the norm, which he is trying to prove. Another moment, where reason can be seen, is Truman’s last decision of choosing to leave behind Seahaven and move out to the real world. He deduces that the best idea is to move on and build his life all over after he finds his love interest. Through reason, Truman was able to figure out the fictitious world that he was trapped in and make his own voluntary choice to leave.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and The Truman’s Show have reoccurring themes with knowledge and how deceivable it can be. Both have characters with a minimal amount of knowledge that lead them to believe a falsification of life. The allegory begins with a group of prisoners, inside a cave, seeing shadows that they believe are the reality. The shadows are the only knowledge they have of their surroundings, their world, which they led them to deduce their lives are in the normality. To compare with The Truman Show, Truman has known this falsified world since his birth. He has been exposed, just like the prisoners, to nothing more so he concluded that world he was living in was normal. The journey for truth begins as both characters see traces of the actual reality. The prisoner notices the light from the outside of the cave, and for Truman, he connects the dots with Meryl’s statement, the wife’s hand in their wedding picture, and other discrepancies from the cast. When they do reach the truth, the falter in believing it. For the prisoner returns back to the cave after being enlightened and starts to doubt his knowledge on the new world as the other prisoners turn him down. Similarly, Truman begins to uncover flaws on the set and becomes adamant that his world isn’t as he believes; but the actors surrounding him make him doubt his knowledge.
The Truman Show is a film that portrays three of the ways of knowing explicitly and shows distinct connections to the famous ‘Allegory of the Cave’ by Plato. Through the first way of knowing (emotion) discussed from the movie, there’s a clear distinction on how Truman’s beliefs and knowledge is transformed through emotion. For sense perception, Truman is senses aren’t fully capturing the whole picture because of the manipulation of the environment that Truman only gathers half of the story, the side the director wants. Lastly, for reason, Truman wouldn’t have been able to create a conclusion without reasoning and probably would have stayed in Seahaven for the rest of his life. The Truman Show and ‘Allegory of the Cave’ have many similarities that include limited knowledge and later on discovering reality.


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