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Sabah Sial

Period 6
Socratic Seminar Flatland
1. Why was the depiction of women important in Flatland?
The depiction of women was important in Flatland because it showed the harsh treatment
of women in the real world. Women are the most inferior class in Flatland. They are said
to be formidable, as if they were monsters (Abbott, 10). They are considered worse
than the isosceles triangles, which are the soldiers, because they can make themselves
invisible to the other figures. The depiction is important because one of the major issues
during the time this book was written, and which lasted for decades afterward, were those
concerning the rights of women. This book essentially gave a look through the
panopticon, by allowing the treatment of women to be seen from within. By showing the
treatment of women as being harsh and comparable to monsters, the book brings attention
to that fact, and allows the audience to feel better in believing that they would never
perpetuate such ideologies against women. This in turn enables action to be taken, or at
least for discourse to begin, on the subject of womens rights.
2. Why did Abbott make circles the highest class, and not any other shape?
Circles are made the highest class because they have the least amount of points (Abbott,
35). This means that they have the least danger of harming someone because they cant
use their points to pierce the edge of another figure. They are not as dangerous as the
other classes of figures. It is important that the leading class not be dangerous, because
the leading class has the most knowledge. If there were to be figures with pointed edges,
such as the isosceles triangles, which possessed great knowledge, they might be able to
use that knowledge in a dangerous manner, which would be greatly aided by the fact that
they have many points. The circles probably used this ideology to prevent the lower
classes from gaining power, and by saying that knowledge is dangerous if it falls into the
hands of those that can use it for malicious purposes. This can be reflected in the ideology
surrounding the class system. The argument was that if the poor people, who comprised
the masses, were given knowledge, they wouldnt know how to handle it.
3. Why would the Sphere choose the Square to preach the knowledge of Spaceland,
rather than any other shape from the land of Flatland?
The Sphere chose the Square as a pupil because the Square is in the center of Flatland
society. Our Professional Men and Gentlemen are Squares (to which class I belong)
(Abbott, 7). The Squares are essentially the upper middle class. This means that they are
intelligent enough to analyze society, but held back by society in regards to power. The
Square is smart enough to engage in conversation about new dimensions, and to accept
the fact that there are things that he doesnt know. This is a necessary feature in someone
who is to be taught about the existence of an entirely new dimension. The Square is also
not at the highest level of power. This is important because if the student were someone
in power, they might not attempt to tell those below them about the new knowledge they
have, as it may result in their society being overthrown and thus lead them to lose power.

4. Why is the Hexagonal grandson questioning the fact that there are only two dimensions
at such a young age?
The grandson of the Square is said to someone of unusual brilliancy an perfect
angularity. He has been asking about Geometry. it must be that a Square of three
inches every way, moving somehow parallel to itself (but I dont see how) must make
Something else (but I dont see what) of three inches every way-and this must be
represented by 3^3 (Abbott, 53). If someone that young is able to be curious enough
about the world to make theories about it, even if they make little sense to the child itself,
then it shows that the only reason that figures in Flatland dont even contemplate the fact
that there may be many dimensions by social structuring. The figures have been taught by
society that it is impossible for there to be any other dimensions. The grandson is key to
establishing this fact to the reader. The readers until this point attributed the lack of
knowledge about other dimensions from the figures to the fact that they are ignorant and
arent open to new ideas. However, this refutes that fact. It can also be applied to other
societies, including those in different dimensions. Sometimes people deny new ideas
because of society, not because they havent thought of them before.
5. Why did Abbott make the fact that there could be more dimensions seem outrageous to
all people living in their own dimensions?
The fact that there could be more dimensions is unbelievable to characters that are newly
introduced to the idea. The first example of this is when the Square has a vision of
Lineland, and attempts to explain to its king that there could be more dimensions than the
dimension than he knows. You merely exercise some magic art of vanishing and
returning to sightCan anything be more irrational or audacious? Acknowledge your
folly or depart from my dominions (Abbott, 51). The king of Lineland believes that the
ideas that the Square proposes of there being an up and a down direction are completely
preposterous. The second time when this happens is when the Sphere shows itself to the
Square (Abbott, 59). The Square is at first unable to understand the concept of there being
more dimensions. However, once the Square understands that there can be other
dimensions, he proceeds to ask the Sphere about dimensions greater than the one that the
Sphere is in. The Sphere in turn feels confused about the idea that there could be a fourth
dimension. Sphere. But where is this land of Four Dimensions? I. I know not: but
doubtless my Teacher knows. Sphere. Not I. There is no such land. The very idea of it is
utterly inconceivable (Abbott, 71). The Sphere is depicted as someone who has a vast
amount of knowledge in the book. However, the Sphere itself is perpetuating the
ignorance that Abbott highlights. This shows that even the most knowledgeable among
use have faults in their understanding of the world, even when it comes to the most basic
concepts.