Quotes from the “Flatland” Novel by Edwin Abbott

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Words: 402

Flatland is a satirical work written by Edwin Abbott that elaborates on the nature of hierarchy, freedom, and reality. The novel describes a two-dimensional world where “distinction of sides is intended by Nature to imply distinction of colours” (Abbott 27). Hence, it is a society where some seemingly abstract properties determine the share of valuables. This refers to the human world, where certain qualities of a person create a reason for others to treat them in a particular way, which seems to be a sophism. The citation underlines the absurdity of classes in communities and their meaninglessness when social context is not present.

The other part of the book primarily concerns the questions about reality. There is a reflection in the story: “You plume yourself on inferring the existence of a Straight Line; but I can see Straight Lines, and infer the existence of Angles…” (Abbott 48). The narrator points at the limited understanding of the one-dimensional character. The meaning behind this is that humans, just as points, are enclosed in their perception abilities. Hence, they can understand the world only from one view and never know the truth. The other citation proves it: “You cannot indeed see more than one of my sections, or Circles, at a time; for you have no power to raise your eye out of the plane of Flatland” (Abbott 55). Namely, it narrates the failure of the two-dimensional shapes to conceive space. It is supposed that the reality of the shapes exists only due to their perception. In turn, the author implicates that the higher worlds might be incomprehensible for people.

To summarize, the reading is informative about the absurd nature of any distinguishing characteristics that human beings have made up for themselves. These distinctions are not empirically based and deemed in dogmatism that supports their existence. Moreover, the notions about the differences arise from the limited perception of reality. In turn, it could be stated that the reality is unknowledgeable if one does not have instruments for its investigation.

The novel accentuates two topics that are central to its plot. First, society is hierarchical but the classes exist only in the minds of its individuals. Critical thinking might prevent one from indoctrination by the powerful ones who dictate the principles for distinctions. Second, the human abilities to perceive the world are limited, and the accumulated knowledge might be incorrect due to perceptual issues of individuals.

Work Cited

Abbott, Edwin A. Flatland. 1884. Web.