There are prisoners inside a cave. They are all held by shackles. They can’t either turn their heads back. These prisoners are all facing the wall, and on the wall are projected shadows brought about by the objects and people passing in front of the bonfire.
Prisoners can’t do otherwise, but wonder about the shadows cast on the wall. At the outset, they end up naming all those shadows the way they understand it.
Then one of the prisoners was able to set himself free. It was strange for the prisoner at first. It was kind of uncomfortable even just to stand up as he was preconditioned by his posture inside the cave for a long time. Even then, he managed to turn his head towards the light or the fire casting the shadows to the wall. And by doing so, he was at first overwhelmed by the light coming from the fire. It was a very uncomfortable experience. The prison guard told him that the things passing in front of the bonfire are more real than the shadows on the wall.
Further on, he was dragged out of the cave to the outdoors where the sun shines relentlessly. This gave him a more terrible experience. The pain and the discomfort brought about by the new environment is inundating him again. The piercing light from the sun is smothering his senses. But, so soon he was able to adjust to the environment and was able to see things clearly. So, picking up his senses piece by piece he was able to confront reality outside of the cave. Seeing the real people, green grass, trees, all the animals – he was overjoyed.
But the freed prisoners did not just stay there. He was so moved by the reality he experienced that he felt sorry for his comrade at the cave. So, he went back to the cave and told them about the stuff he discovered beyond the prison wall. But instead, the prisoners argued, laughed and mocked him for that. But these prisoners went beyond just deriding their former prison mate, they went on and killed him instead.