The passage, commonly known as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, is found near the beginning of Book Seven. The passage begins on pg. 193 of your paperback book (ed. Bloom, Plato’s Republic), pg. 216 of the PDF, or the beginning of pg. 514a in the margins, “Next, then, I said, make an image of our nature in its education and want of education…” and continues to the middle of pg. 197, pg. 220 of the PDF, “… And accomplishes this object. – So it seems, he said.”, that is, the middle of pg. 518d in the margins.
Your commentary should achieve two goals.
One is descriptive. You should tell me what is happening in these paragraphs in simple language. Figure out what the views are and describe them to me. What is the context of the discussion, or how does the passage I’ve selected relate to bigger thematic issues at work in the Republic? Perhaps you want to draw attention to thematic issues that are present in earlier or later Books as well. Aim to restate the protagonist’s view here in a few short sentences before further describing the structure and content of the passage selected. Accuracy is important, but so is recognizing when the speaker is, in fact, developing a valuable aspect of their argument. Your primary aim here is to CLARIFY the selected material. Think about what steps the discussion takes, and why it takes those steps.
The second goal is evaluative. You should tell me how strong you think SOCRATES’ argument(s) is (or are), and why. Is he persuasive? How compelling is the evidence he provides for his view(s)? Consider possible objections to your own position, and consider how you can stand up to criticisms of your EVALUATION.
Remember to use extra sign-posting! This means: tell me what you are going to say, what you are saying, and what you’ve just said. Being clear with the structure of your paper is a big asset. And remember to go over any notes you have from the reading, from the discussion board posts (where we have covered this material), from earlier class meetings, etc. Above all, engage directly with the text whenever possible. This means CITING the text. Additional secondary sources are NOT required, but are always welcome. However, if you are CITING the text, this means you will need minimally a single-entry bibliography, where you indicate the text you are citing.