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First of all, let me start off with a disclaimer. The Matrix is my favorite movie; please do not think that because I am writing this essay that I disapprove of the movie as a whole. The point of this essay is to the pose the question of whether or not they should have even wanted to wake up from the Matrix—let alone made it their life mission to destroy the Matrix. While the AI and Matrix was the enemy, I think there is also much truth in the phrase “ignorance is bliss,” and that’s exactly what the Matrix was. People got to live their lives thinking they were living in a perfectly fine world. They then were woken up to realize they were actually living in a post-apocalyptic world and they couldn’t even see sunlight.
First, I want to point out and analyze a key aspect of The Matrix. That is the allegory of the cave. If you aren’t familiar with Plato’s allegory of the cave, you might want to read a short summary or just try to piece it together as you go along. Another movie that follows the allegory of the cave is The Truman Show, which is another great film piece. Now, for those who are not familiar with allegory of the cave, I will give a short summary. A man who’s only ever known the cave leaves, sees the light, comes back to the cave to tell his cave friends, who call him crazy, and kill him/become violent. So how does this translate to The Matrix? Well, let’s dive in.
Let’s start by analyzing the allegory of the cave within the Matrix. Those who are woken up, or are “released” from the Matrix, are the ones who break out of the cave. Then, they go and join Xion, which would be when they see "the light." Lastly, they then go join these groups that travel around the real Earth and then go back into the Matrix to try and “save” others. This would represent the part of the allegory of the cave where the enlightened person goes back to try and help others “see the light.” As we see in the movie, the regular people walking around in the Matrix turn into agents once they realize there’s people in the Matrix who shouldn’t be. This represents how once the person goes back to the cave to enlighten the others, they think they’re crazy and become violent and they end up killing the enlightened one.
Now that there’s a basic understanding of how the story is set up, I’ll dive into why they should have never left the Matrix in the first place. I think it’s pretty obvious that Xion is a dump and the world would be a horrible place to live. However, the Matrix is comfortable and you can sleep on a comfortable bed and not have to worry about what shelter you have. The power of the Matrix to provide safe and secure housing for everybody is another leg up on reality. Additionally, the food they eat in Xion is gross, and in the movie, Cypher mentions how the steak is so juicy and he can enjoy it even though he knows it’s not real. I know I personally would rather eat fake good food instead of the slop that they eat in Xion and on the ships. Additionally, life in Xion is depressing, whereas in the Matrix you can create a meaningful and fulfilling life for yourself. There is more to explore in the Matrix, whereas in real life—whether it be post apocalyptic or not—you are limited.
I will acknowledge that in The Matrix, the Matrix is made to seem like a glum existence, however, I don’t feel that it is any less glum than being in Xion where you can’t even see the sun. The reality is that the world is complete shit and I truly feel the only way to be able to enjoy your existence to the fullest is to stay in the Matrix.
Again, in no way am I bashing the movie. The Matrix is my favorite movie and I think that it is absolutely amazing.