Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave is a big metaphor that is meant to show how important it is to be enlightened. In Freire’s The Banking Concept of Education, this importance is emphasized also through Freire’s explanation of how “the banking concept” is not sufficient. In Woolf’s Shakespeare’s Sister, Woolf explains how important and critical it is for each and every person, regardless of gender or any other label, to be educated.
For the prisoners in The Allegory of the Cave, enlightenment meant becoming closer to what is good, whereas in The Banking Concept of Education, proper enlightenment meant conquering poverty and oppressors. The whole cycle of enlightenment for the prisoners in The Allegory of the Cave involved educating every person and bringing them closer to what is good, which is similar to the purpose of proper enlightenment in The Banking Concept of Education. Freire’s point is that it is not enough to simply have knowledge deposited into our minds, but it is instead necessary to think critically about the information we are receiving.
This critical thinking is especially important for those in poverty and under oppression, because it allows them to escape the oppression, just like the prisoner’s in The Allegory of the Cave escaped their imprisonment through enlightenment.
In Shakespeare’s Sister, education meant being able to pursue your passions without discrimination. Woolf addresses what life might be like for imaginary Judith Shakespeare, who is blessed with the same gifts as her brother.
During the Renaissance, a woman like Judith would not be able to use her talent, because women were restricted to simply being wives and mothers. Girls did not receive education like boys did, and girls were not able to voice themselves or express themselves. If women had the same opportunities as men, they would be free to express themselves and live more fulfilled lives, instead of a life ultimately ending in suicide like it did in the imaginary life of Judith Shakespeare. Women would be able to break away from their restrictions as a wife, mother, and listener through enlightenment and acceptance similar to how the prisoners in The Allegory of the Cave could be unchained from their ignorant lives in the cave through enlightenment and effort towards becoming closer to what is good.
Despite the differences in stories and focus, The Allegory of the Cave, The Banking Concept of Education, and Shakespeare’s Sister all have a central focus on the significance of enlightenment, and how enlightenment can improve our lives and overall wellbeing. Education is multi-functional, and this is apparent in the relation between the three texts even though their stories and focus range from ethics, poverty and oppression, to feminism.