Flatland Questions

Hugh Lassen

"Irregularity of Figure"

Using this chapter is Edwin Abbott attempting to address the discrimination and racism in the late nineteenth century. After creating a whole host of different shapes that construct the social hierarchy in England, to then include "irregular" figures might suggest that figures are shunned from society based soley on their shape. I do not mean that some figures do find it easier than others, moreover that harmless irregular figures are "scorned and suspected by society" for no apparent reason, other than their irregularity or as happens in Spaceland the color of their skin.

Edwin Abbott then continues that the interests of the "Greater Number" require that the life of the irregular be hard - but why? Is it mearly so that the many sided figures can feel powerful - one can draw a parrallel with the Holocaust. The Nazi's needed the Jewish people for more than their money or their work in the death camps, they needed then to feel powerful and dominant.

Abbott the mentions that there were a few "irregulars" that managed to seep into the power-structure of Flatland and were very valuable. One notices this in Germany before the war. In Lion Feuchtwanger's novel "The Opperman's" the issue of a deeply ingrained Jewish family in the then turbulant German society is commented on. A perfectly successful Jewish family which was perfectly happy in Germany is destroyed by Nazism. In Flatland the extermination of the "irregulars" does not go this far however, the issue remains clear - Irregulars can be treated like equals but, for the mostpart they aren't.

After having read the Painting episode, I began to wonder whether Abbott might have been interested in Communism or maybe more plainly equality of people. Was he? By painting a persons sides were indiscriminate and everyone appeared to be equall. Abbott satirized the hierarchal ladder in England with irronically by equalling the priests with the woman. Did Abbott hold strong views about elevating the working class and toppling the higher class?