The symbol of Light and Shade in Flatland from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Flatland

Light and Shade Symbol Analysis

Light and Shade Symbol Icon

Light and shade, as well as dimness/darkness and brightness, are constantly referred to in Flatland as the ways in which the third dimension creates perspective. Throughout his description of Flatland, A Square repeatedly expresses that his readers from Spaceland have been blessed with the gift of perceiving light and shade. As such, the two represent the knowledge that Spaceland inhabitants have of the third dimension. In the same way that light and shade allow for visual perception of the third dimension, so too does knowledge broaden one’s perspective to understand higher Truths. Yet this particular symbol also speaks to the dual nature of knowledge, which can be either enlightening and approaching Truth (light) or exploited by those in power to suppress rebellion (shade).

Light and Shade Quotes in Flatland

The Flatland quotes below all refer to the symbol of Light and Shade. 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 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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Light and Shade Symbol Timeline in Flatland

The timeline below shows where the symbol Light and Shade appears in Flatland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Flatland houses do not have windows because light shines on Flatland equally day and night. From the topic of light, A Square makes... (full context)
Chapter 5
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Unlike those who are fortunate enough to perceive light and shade in Spaceland, Flatlanders must take other measures to recognize each other’s configurations. A... (full context)
Chapter 6
Social Hierarchy and Oppression Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
...classes and depends on the naturally abundant fog in Flatland. By comparing relative dimness and brightness of the sides of another, Flatlanders can infer the configurations of each other. (full context)
Chapter 16
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
...reasoning, then, the Wife must also have a “height.” But A Square confuses “height” with “brightness” and does not grasp the Stranger’s meaning. (full context)
Chapter 18
Religion, Divinity, and the Unknown Theme Icon
Reason vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
The terrified A Square first perceives darkness and is initially confused at seeing everything in three dimensions. The Sphere calms him by... (full context)
Chapter 19
Knowledge and Truth vs. Dogma Theme Icon
Analogy as Satire Theme Icon
...Irregular figure to him. The Sphere explains that A Square is not used to seeing light and shade and perspective, so he introduces A Square to the cube, a living being.... (full context)