A Wrinkle in Time

Major themes

Madeleine L'Engle's fantasy works are in part highly expressive of her Christian viewpoint in a manner somewhat similar to that of Christian fantasy writer C. S. Lewis. She was herself the official writer-in-residence at New York City's Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which is known for its prominent position in the liberal wing of the Episcopal Church.[10] L'Engle's liberal Christianity has been the target of criticism from more conservative Christians, especially with respect to certain elements of A Wrinkle in Time.[11]

The theme of picturing the fight of good against evil as a battle of light and darkness is a recurring one. It is manner reminiscent of the prologue to the Gospel of John which is also quoted once. When the "Mrs W's" reveal their secret roles in the cosmic fight against "the darkness" they ask the children to name some figures on Earth (a partially dark planet) who fight the darkness. They name Jesus, and later in the discussion Buddha is named as well, along with various creative artists and philanthropists. The three women are described as ancient star-beings who act as guardian angels.[12]

Further, the themes of "conformity" and the "status quo" are present. It is a generic theme that is within every society there is a powerful dominant group that challenges the minority group. Very few of the powerless members of this group are resilient. In this case, IT is the powerful dominant group that manipulates the planet of Camazotz into conformity (i.e., they all have the same rhythm). Even Charles Wallace falls prey (due to flattery) and is hence persuaded to conform. It is thanks to Meg that she and her family are able to break from conformity.[13] According to the author's granddaughter Charlotte Jones Voiklis, the story wasn't a simple allegory of communism; in a three-page passage that was cut before publication, the process of domination is said to be an outcome of dictatorship under totalitarian regimes, and by an excessive desire of security under democratic countries.[14][15]

Scholar Jean Fulton writes, "L'Engle's fiction for young readers is considered important partly because she was among the first to focus directly on the deep, delicate issues that young people must face, such as death, social conformity, and truth. L'Engle's work always is uplifting because she is able to look at the surface values of life from a perspective of wholeness, both joy and pain, transcending each to uncover the absolute nature of human experience that they share."[6]


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