1. It represents the ignorant lives that people in most institutions live.
2. Symbolism is used often in the form of extended metaphor. He refers to the institution of education as a cave with shackles and an instructor telling you what to believe. The sun being true enlightenment.
3. If you want true enlightenment, you have to ask your own questions. You must personally take charge in figuring the world out yourself.
4. They weren't there by their own will. Somebody else forced them in there and don't want them to leave.
5. School in that in order to succeed, a student has to mindlessly follow whatever the teacher tells them, rather than a person being in charge of their own personalized education.
6. The freed prisoner is excited and curious while the trapped prisoners are subtly content with where they are, even though, it's not the true world.
7. Leaving the cave at first, when you become "blinded by the sun," and when you go back into the cave, when "your eyes need to adjust to the darkness."
8. The prisoners simply need to be curious enough to break their shackles by asking questions, and observing what is really happening.
9. I don't think there is too large of a distinction, the distinction comes when trying to recreate a reality in the form of words for somebody else, or when you try to remember what reality used to be.
10. The world is better understood through the physical makeup of things. Thoughts cannot influence reality.