Truman Show Character Development



The film “The Truman Show” outlines the encounters associated with morality and immorality that happens in the real world in today’s society. It relates to Epistemology, which is the study of knowledge and how we perceive things. 

To start, Truman is a very upbeat, friendly individual who enjoys having small talk with his neighbors every morning. His catchphrase every day before he goes to work is “Good afternoon. Good evening, and Good night.” All of his neighbours are extremely nice to him and everyone in the town knows Truman very well. He had got a task to do for his job which was to go to Harbour Island on a boat. Truman had tried to take up this opportunity by buying a ticket and going on the boat, although his nerves got the best of him. This had happened because when he was younger, a staged incident of his dad drowning had scarred him. Later on, he sees the girl of his dreams that catches his eye. The next day he sees the same in the library and asks her to go out, she then says “I can’t be talking to you.” Confused, Truman keeps initiating for them to go on a date. She finally agrees and says they need to go right now before they get caught. They go down to the beach and her dad takes her and then says they’re moving to Fiji. 

A couple of years later he got married to a different girl. Truman is driving one day and he hears people talking about him on the radio and then he walks into an elevator and sees people sitting to what it looks like on a set of a movie or TV show. He then pulls out a knife and is threatening his wife and the wife looks at the camera and says “do something”, so Truman has now caught on that something is recording him. The next night Truman plans an escape so he fakes that he is sleeping and cuts a hole in the top of his closet and escapes to set sail to Fiji. No one realizes until around an hour later and people start to search for him. They finally realize that he’s heading on a boat to Fiji so the director of the TV show sets the waves of the ocean to storm mode. He does this so that Truman would get scared and turn back. During this, he ends up surviving and hitting a barrier then he finds an exit door. The director then talks to him over a microphone and explains everything that has happened his whole life and begs him to stay. He then says “Good afternoon, good evening, and good night” and walks out of the exit door for good. In all, The Truman show is a thrilling movie that is telling a strong message that we get too wrapped up in make-believe and how we’re willing to focus our attention on “stars” and “heroes” but should be paying attention to what's happening in the real world. 

This movie consists of Truman being “blinded by the real world” and being manipulated into thinking something that isn’t happening. A connection I can make from this movie is Plato’s allegory of the cave. In the allegory, Plato likens people in the theory of forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is what is in front of them which is the wall of the cave. Behind them, there is a fire and between them and the fire is a bunch of puppeteers that hold puppets to cast shadows on the cave wall. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets and can only see the shadows on the cave walls that were cast by the objects that the puppeteers were holding. Not knowing what’s going on behind them, the prisoners believe that what’s appearing on the wall is reality. 

This connection relates to the movie because Truman did not know that he was living on a big TV set, he thought he was living his life in a normal world. In Plato’s allegory of the cave, the prisoners did not know that what is being projected onto the wall is imaginary and not real objects, only shadows. So the two were being fooled by knowledge by not knowing what the reality of the situation was. Truman also had believed that he had not been on a TV show and that he was just living a normal life. He was so invested in just living his life that he was blind from the fact that he was living in a space of false reality. In Plato’s allegory of the cave, the same thing happens to the prisoners. They believe that what they are seeing is real and little do they know that they were seeing false reality. 

Relating to knowledge, Plato thought that there are truths to be discovered and that knowledge is possible. He stated, “Since truth is objective, our knowledge of true propositions must be about real things” (Vaughn 4). He thought that for it to be considered knowledge,  the idea or proposition must be believed, true, and supported by good reasons (Theory of knowledge 1). This relates to Plato’s Allegory of the cave because Plato believes that the only way knowledge can be true is to believe the idea and support it with good reasons. In the cave, the prisoners are believing what they have projected and what they can see therefore they know of their own if they believe it and can support it with good reasons. 

On the same note, in The Truman Show, knowledge is acquired by Truman as he believes that the world he is living in is real. All his life he believed that the world he was living in was real and not false reality, therefore he knew his senses. I may not be the knowledge that everyone else is seeking because everyone else knows he’s on a TV show, but it is considered knowledge if he thinks everything is true. Although, when Truman escapes the made-up world he is going to gain new sets of knowledge that he has never experienced before. He will believe new things and have a new sense of the reality of what the real world is. 

Another connection I can make to this movie is through an early philosopher, Aristotle. Aristotle has a theory of knowledge that what is true must be justified in a way that shows that it must be true. He believed that we get knowledge from our senses, then, later on, organize that knowledge and become familiar with it (John 1). He said that the only way to justify knowledge is to believe it for a long period. He needed to go further with his theory so he came up with “the four causes” which were material, formal, final, and efficient causes.

The material cause of a being is its physical properties or what is made up of it. For example, a TV is made up of glass, metal, and plastic (Carr 1). A formal cause according to Aristotle is describing the pattern, which when present makes matter into a particular type of thing, in other words, it refers to what gives the matter its form. An example of this is a Tv isn’t just made up of glass, it’s made up of metal and glass programmed in a certain way to work as it does (Carr 1). An efficient cause consists of things apart from the thing being changed, or a reason behind someone's existence. For example, a TV exists because someone had the idea to put all the parts together, build it and make it work the way they wanted it to work (Carr 1). Finally, final cause. The final cause is the purpose of something to end, the way something is intended to happen. It’s the reason why something existed in the first place, for example, why does a TV have glass on the screen? 

Overall, Aristotle had four causes to explain his theory of knowledge. Aristotle's theory of knowledge and the four causes relate to The Truman Show. This is because Aristotle’s theory of knowledge is based around what is true must be justified. At the beginning of the movie, this theory of knowledge does not apply to Truman because he thinks he is living in a normal world. Although, during the end of the movie when he starts to catch on to everything and escapes, it applies. He used his knowledge by going out across the “ocean” to try and escape and justify what he thought was true. He eventually hit a barrier and found an exit that proved that he has knowledge according to Aristotle's theory of knowledge.

Aristotle and Plato both have similar theories when it comes to knowledge. Plato’s theory of knowledge is that there are truths to be discovered and that knowledge is possible but they must only be about real things. Aristotle agrees with Plato that knowledge is accurate and the truth must be justified in a way that shows truthfulness. Although, they do differ in some aspects such as the concepts of the Universe. So, Plato believes that concepts had a universal form or an ideal form. Aristotle believed that universal forms were not necessarily attached to each object and that each instance of an object had to be analyzed on its own (Powered by Blogger 1). 

In conclusion, The Truman Show is a movie that is filled with knowledge and many connections can be made. Plato’s allegory of the Cave is a connection that was made by the two being manipulated by a “leader” and not knowing what is real from what is fake. On the other hand, Aristotle's four causes and his theory of knowledge related to the show by Truman going to seek the knowledge that he deserves at the end of the film.