Drawing parallels and comparing two polar opposites, such as foul and fair, sets the stage for the dissimilarity between appearance and reality.
The narration takes place at Phlius, a town of Sicyon. The dialog takes the form of a narrative because Socrates is described acting as well as speaking, and the particulars of the event are interesting to distant friends as well as to the narrator himself.
Phaedo is asked if he had been present with Socrates on the day that he drank the poison. He replies that he was present, and he also mentions several of the other persons who were there at the time. These included Simmias, Cebes, Crito, Apollodorus, and several other people.
Plato was not present at this meeting, having been kept away because of illness. The chief topic of conversation had been Socrates' conception of the soul.
Inasmuch as all of those present were aware of the fact that Socrates would be put to death that day, they wanted to know what their beloved teacher believed concerning the nature of the soul. There were many questions that they would like to have answered, including: What assurance or proof do we have that souls actually exist?
How is the soul related to the body? What happens to the soul at the time of death? Does it disintegrate into nothingness, or does it continue to exist in some form? Are souls immortal in the sense that they have neither a beginning nor an end?
Are souls influenced by contact with the body? Are there both good and bad souls, and if so, what constitutes the difference between them?
Are souls either punished or rewarded in some future life? These questions, along with others closely related to them, are discussed at some length as Socrates attempts to present his ideas in a manner that is both clear and convincing.
The dialog begins with a request that Phaedo report to the group of visitors about the death of Socrates, telling them what he had to say during his last hours. Some of those who were present had heard that Socrates had been condemned to drink poison, but they knew very little about it and were anxious to learn more of the details.
Phaedo explained the reason why the execution had been delayed for a month, pending the return of the ship from the island of Delos. He also described something of his own feelings as he witnessed the death of his very dear friend.
He did not pity Socrates, for his mien and his language were so noble and fearless in the hour of death that he appeared to be blessed. After having mentioned the names of several of those who were present at the time of Socrates' death, Phaedo states that he will endeavor to repeat the entire conversation as he remembers the way in which it took place.
As the group entered the prison on the morning of Socrates last day, they observed that he had just been released from chains. His wife, Xanthippe, was sitting by him, holding their child in her arms.
She was weeping because this was the last time she could converse with her husband. Socrates turned to Crito and asked that he have someone take her home.
After this had been done and some remarks had been made concerning the readiness with which a true philosopher would approach death, Cebes asks Socrates why it is that he believes it is wrong for one to commit suicide since death is not something to be feared?
Socrates admits that there is an apparent inconsistency in his position, but a careful consideration of the problem will reveal no real inconsistency.
The reason is that we as human beings are in the hands of the gods. They are our guardians and we are their possessions.
Since we belong to the gods, it is wrong for us to destroy their possessions, except in those instances that are in accordance with their will. Neither Cebes nor Simmias is satisfied with this statement, and Socrates proceeds to give additional reasons in support of his position.
Although he believes that suicide is wrong, he has no fear of death so long as he is acting in harmony with the will of God. He would be grieved at death if he did not believe the soul would fare better after death than when it is dwelling in the body. He is convinced, however, that after the soul is separated from the body, it will go to other gods and will be associated with the souls of departed people who are even better than those now living on the earth.
Socrates admits that he has no positive proof of this, but he believes it to be true and is aware of no facts to indicate the contrary. At this point, Crito interrupts the conversation to inform them that the jailer has requested Socrates not to talk so much lest the heat generated by his talking might interfere with the action of the poison he must take and thereby make it necessary to have it administered more than once.
Socrates instructs Crito to tell the jailer to mind his own business and be prepared to give the poison as many times as is required. Following this brief interruption, Socrates enters into a discussion with Cebes and Simmias concerning the nature of death.“Appearance vs. reality” is considered a binary opposite or an example of a duality found in literature.
Binary opposites often show a theme or idea that the author is trying to convey through. An Example of an analysis of theme: “The Ugly Duckling”: an Aesop Fable.
Perception is reality is a major theme of this story. All of the other animals at the farm perceive the ‘ugly duckling’ as ugly because he is in reality a swan hatched with a brood of ducks.
In analysis it is necessary to take limits; thus one is naturally led to the construction of the real numbers, a system of numbers containing the rationals and closed under limits. These can affect choice of research topic, formulation of research questions, choice of methods, choice of research design and instruments, ethics, sample & process of data collection, interpretation of data and findings, conclusions, reporting and dissemination.
And since it is expressly the boundaries which we superimpose on reality that slice it up into innumerable pairs of opposites, the claim of all these traditions that reality is freed from the pairs of opposites is a claim that reality is freed from all boundaries.
"Opposites Attract" is a law of attraction, at least where electromagnetisms are concerned, but are there unwritten laws or boundaries about attraction between two people as well? Michaels illustrates that although opposite magnets are able to attract, in reality two opposite people will have a difficult time coming to a comfortable arrangement.