Authors make an assortment of decisions when it comes to writing, whether it be a novel, a short story, a play, or even a poem. The decisions the authors make help to form the message the author wants to portray throughout their work. The authors have to make decisions about an assortment of literary elements such as plot, theme, characterization, setting, and conflict. It is no different with Edwin Abbott and his novel Flatland. Abbott had to make decisions like these to effectively portray his message. He chose to do so with the life of A. Square. The literary elements that helped Abbott portray his message, about the faults of the world, most effectively are setting, conflict, and characterization.
Setting is just one literary element in which Edwin Abbott uses to portray his message about the faults of the world. Abbott starts off using setting to portray his message when explaining the setup of the houses within Flatland. The houses have tend to have two doors: one “on the East for the Women” and one “on the West for the Men”. The houses have different entrances to help in the portrayal of how women were treated differently than men. They were treated as less then. Not only does Abbott describe the house in his successful portrayal of the faults within the world, he also describes the different lands. The different lands described in the book are Pointland, Lineland, Flatland, and Spaceland. Most of the book did occur in Flatland, but Abbott used the life of A. Square and his dreams to describe the multiple lands, seeing as how A. Square “awoke rejoicing and began to reflect on the glorious career before. The setting throughout Flatland helped Edwin Abbott to successfully portray his message.
Edwin Abbott also uses various forms of conflict within Flatland to effectively portray his message. A. Square found himself in a lot of conflict throughout his life. He had conflict with both the King of Lineland and the Sphere from Spaceland. When A. Square was in Lineland, he asked the King, “Woman, what signifies this concourse, and this strange and confused chirping”. This really made the King mad and started the argument between A. Square and the King of Lineland. Not only did A. Square have conflict with others, he also had internal conflict. Once he was taught about the third dimension, he struggled internally about what to do with the information he was given. Would he risk being “arrest, imprison, or execut” for “pervert the minds of the people by delusions, and by professing to have received revelations from another World”? The different examples of conflict throughout Flatland help Abbott portray his message effectively.
Not only does Edwin Abbott use setting and conflict to help portray his message, he also uses characterization of the characters within Flatland. He characterizes several characters throughout Flatland, but one characterization that really stuck out and helped Abbott in portraying his message is the characterization of the women. Abbott tried to show the faults within the world such as the way women were treated as less than. Abbott’s characterization really helps to show that. One way in which the characterization of women shows that is when he described how women are used and “serve as a compass in parts of our earth”. Abbott also uses the characterization of women when describing the social hierarchy within society to help portray his message effectively. In Flatland, “Women are Straight Lines Soldiers and Classes of Workmen are Triangles”. Not only are women considered straight lines, they are also considered lower than the lowest class of society. This characterization, as well as several others, helps Abbott to successfully portray his message.
In order for authors to successfully portray the message within their work, they must make decision after decision on how to do so. Edwin Abbott had to make decision after decision as well. Abbott decided to use setting, conflict, and characterization to portray the message within Flatland. These literary elements used by Abbott within his work help the readers understand the message. People read and take different meanings from things all the time. Authors work with a purpose to try and make the people take away what they put into it. In order to do so, they must make decisions on how to write it. Abbott successfully portrayed his message using setting, conflict, and characterization.