A Wrinkle In Time: Theme Analysis

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Theme Analysis

Good versus Evil
The universe in A Wrinkle in Time is a battle between the forces of light and darkness, or good and evil. The evil is represented metaphysically by the Dark Thing or the Black Thing, and manifests in the physical forms of the man with red eyes and IT. The representatives of light are perpetually involved in a struggle against darkness. The good characters are various. There are Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Who, whose essential forms, as revealed on Uriel, seem to embody bliss and joy. Mrs. Whatsit was formerly a star that gave up its own life in the battle against darkness. The creatures on the planet Ixchel are also defenders of the light against the darkness. Needless to say, Mr. Murry and the children are also on the side of the light.

Good is associated with love, individual creativity, moral responsibility and free will. Evil is associated with conformity, hatred, submission to authority, and lack of personal responsibility and initiative. Evil is presented as possessing many of the qualities historically present in communist societies, including excessive bureaucracy, a drab sameness, and mind control amounting to brainwashing by a central authority. In this sense the novel can be seen as an allegory of the cold war between the freedom-loving West and the communist Soviet Union. This becomes explicit when Meg realizes that the Declaration of Independence, with its statement that all men are created equal, is quite different from the false equality or sameness imposed from outside, which is what happens on Camazotz.

The cosmic framework of good versus evil suggests a Christian view of the world, and there are a number of references to Christian concepts and traditions. Examples are when Calvin describes the three ladies as guardian angels; when the music that emanates from the creatures on Uriel is translated as the words of Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, in praise of creation; when the Gospel of John is quoted: "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." However, none of the characters are described as Christians, and there is no mention of Jesus Christ. The Christian framework is therefore more implied than stated explicitly.

The Primacy of Love
Love is always stronger than hatred, or anything else the forces of darkness can muster. It is love that defeats IT in the end-Meg's love for her brother, Charles Wallace. Love is presented in both a cosmic and a personal context. In the cosmic context, love is the supreme principle of life, and it is embodied in the three ladies, despite their whimsical and eccentric behavior. This becomes explicit in a significant moment in the last chapter, when Mrs. Whatsit says to Meg, "I give you my love, Meg. Never forget that. My love always." Cosmic love is also embodied in Aunt Beast and the other creatures on Ixchel.

At the human level, love is embodied in the love of family. This is illustrated on the final page of the novel, in the joyful embrace of the entire Murry family as they are reunited. It is love of family that sends Meg and Charles in search of their father and it is love that enables them to return with him.

Personal and Moral Responsibility
Meg matures during the course of the novel. She learns that she cannot expect others to solve all her problems. She must show courage and take personal responsibility, and work with the forces of light in order to overcome the difficulties she faces. When she expects her father to make everything turn out right, she is thinking like a person on Camazotz-she thinks that if she just hands over responsibility to someone else, the pain of life will go away. No wonder she is angry at her father when she finds that this is not so, and that he cannot rescue Charles. But Meg eventually learns what is necessary. She must take action herself, with no guarantee of success. Nothing is pre-determined, although there are many forces in the universe that are ready to help when she takes the first step.

Individuality and Being Different
At the beginning of the novel, Meg is unhappy because she is different from others. She hates her appearance and she thinks she is no good at school. She really wants to be like everyone else, to fit in well. But on Camazotz, she gets a practical lesson in what it would be like if differences were eliminated and everyone exactly the same. It is not an inviting prospect. The people on Camazotz have no individuality. They are brainwashed and cannot think for themselves. Meg therefore learns to accept that individual differences are important; she no longer thinks that she wants to be something different than who she is.

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