Flatland

The Sphere / The Stranger Character Analysis

An inhabitant of Spaceland who visits Flatland at the start of every millennium in search of a new apostle who can enlighten others regarding the third dimension. A Square first refers to the Sphere as the Stranger since he cannot grasp the concept of a three-dimensional sphere. Although A Square praises and worships the visiting solid for his knowledge of higher Truths, the Sphere still exhibits flaws of his own. Although he himself roams across other worlds to enlighten those who do not know of Spaceland and the third dimension, he initially does not consider the possibility of extradimensional worlds beyond his own. Instead, it is his pupil, A Square, who expresses a greater thirst for knowledge and infers the existence of the fourth, fifth, and even sixth dimensions. The Sphere responds to such questions not with openness, but with irritability, abandoning A Square as his disciple.

The Sphere / The Stranger Quotes in Flatland

The Flatland quotes below are all either spoken by The Sphere / The Stranger or refer to The Sphere / The Stranger . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of Flatland published in 1992.
Chapter 17 Quotes

Why will you refuse to listen to reason? I had hoped to find in you—as being a man of sense and an accomplished mathematician—a fit apostle for the Gospel of the Three Dimensions, which I am allowed to preach once only in a thousand years…

Related Characters: The Sphere / The Stranger (speaker), A Square
Page Number: Page 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

“Either this is madness or it is Hell.” “It is neither, calmly replied the voice of the Sphere, “it is Knowledge; it is Three Dimensions: open your eye once again and try to look steadily.”

Related Characters: A Square (speaker), The Sphere / The Stranger (speaker)
Related Symbols: Light and Shade
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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Behold, I am become as a God. For the wise men in our country say that to see all things, or as they express it, omnividence, is the attribute of God alone.

Related Characters: A Square (speaker), The Sphere / The Stranger
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

And even as we, who are now in Space, look down on Flatland and see the insides of all things, so of a certainty there is yet above us some higher purer region, whither thou dost surely purpose to lead me…

Related Characters: A Square (speaker), The Sphere / The Stranger
Page Number: Page 71
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

Yet mark his perfect self-contentment, and hence learn his lesson, that to be self-contented is to be vile and ignorant, and that to aspire is better than to be blindly and impotently happy.

Related Characters: The Sphere / The Stranger (speaker), The Monarch of Pointland
Page Number: Page 75
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Sphere / The Stranger Character Timeline in Flatland

The timeline below shows where the character The Sphere / The Stranger appears in Flatland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
...Wife suddenly see a figure before their eyes. A Square’s Wife asks to feel the Stranger, and believes him to be a perfect Circle. The Stranger then asks for A Square’s... (full context)
Chapter 16
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
Unable to clearly see his unexpected visitor, A Square feels the Stranger and believes him to be a perfect Circle. The Stranger announces that he has come... (full context)
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
The Stranger then attempts to convince A Square with a different argument concerning A Square’s Wife. The... (full context)
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
...dimension has a direction and is something that can be measured, A Square asks the Stranger to measure his “height.” The Stranger decides to use plain words and a visual example... (full context)
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
The Sphere makes an analogy between the way A Square appears as a line to the Monarch... (full context)
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
Although A Square indeed sees that the Sphere decreases in size as he “rose,” he still does not understand the nature of the... (full context)
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
The Sphere begins by asking A Square what a point moving northward creates with its path of... (full context)
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
The Sphere claims that he can describe the word “upward” with Flatland language, and proceeds to present... (full context)
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
A Square asks if this resulting creature has sides. The Sphere answers that what Flatlanders call “sides” are actually called “solids” in his own world. He... (full context)
Chapter 17
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
A Square violently tries to rush his strongest right angle into the Sphere, but the Sphere raises himself out of Flatland. Intent on making A Square an apostle... (full context)
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
The Sphere describes how his aerial view of Flatland broadens as he rises, while the objects become... (full context)
Chapter 18
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
...Square first perceives darkness and is initially confused at seeing everything in three dimensions. The Sphere calms him by telling him that what he sees is “knowledge.” A Square then realizes... (full context)
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
The Sphere shows A Square the whole layout of Flatland and the inside of his house, where... (full context)
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
The Sphere scorns A Square for his shortsightedness, and argues that if omnividence is really a quality... (full context)
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
...the wise men of Flatland regard knowledge and reason with more esteem than affection. The Sphere retorts by saying that the wisest in Spaceland are more in touch with emotion than... (full context)
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
A Square and the Sphere descend into the building. It is the first hour of the first day of the... (full context)
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
A Square declares that he is confident that he can enlighten the Circles. However, the Sphere stops him and descends himself into the meeting room, proclaiming the existence of a land... (full context)
Chapter 19
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
The two return to space and the Sphere introduces A Square to the concept of solids. He stacks many square cards on top... (full context)
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
...of rebellion in his readers, who may be stuck in their own dimensions. While the Sphere is teaching him the conformations of other regular solids, A Square interrupts him, asking if... (full context)
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
A Square posits the existence of a land of Four Dimensions. However, the Sphere denies its existence, and argues that it is simply impossible to think about such a... (full context)
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
A Square asks the Sphere to confirm or deny his hypothesis. The Sphere admits that some of his countrymen have... (full context)
Chapter 20
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
...story. Once alone in his room, he broods over everything he has learned from the Sphere and recites the phrase “Upward, yet not Northward” repeatedly until he falls asleep. During his... (full context)
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
A Square and the Sphere return to Flatland, and the Sphere inspires A Square to teach others of higher dimensions.... (full context)
Chapter 21
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
First, A Square relieves his Wife’s questions about the other night’s encounter with the Sphere. Then he immediately seeks out his Grandson, since he feels that all his experiences and... (full context)
Chapter 22
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
...his brother does not understand the concept of the third dimension, despite having witnessed the Sphere’s revelation. (full context)