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A Wrinkle in Time | Symbols


Light and Darkness

The symbolism of light and darkness provides an instantly recognizable metaphor for good and evil. These symbols help the book work on an allegorical or symbolic level, representing large, universal concepts.

Light stands for good, knowledge, visibility, and clarity. Strong universal forces of good—like stars—give off light. The light of a star in the Happy Medium's crystal ball clarifies for the children how the Dark Thing can be overcome. Light often comes with warmth, as in the warmth of the Murry kitchen during the storm, or the warmth of the daytimes on Ixchel. Light is also associated with the illumination of knowledge. When Meg understands concepts, she has a "flash" of comprehension. The biblical quote Mrs Who uses in Chapter 5 says the darkness doesn't comprehend or understand the light.

Darkness stands for evil, ignorance, and obscurity. The ambient force of evil in the book is represented by a shadow called the Black Thing, or the Dark Thing. When the Black Thing is first revealed in Chapter 4, it obscures the stars. Darkness is often associated with cold—Meg's trip through the Black Thing in Chapter 10 leaves her frozen. Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which are referred to as "laughing in the dark." Facing the terrifying "dark" of uncertain outcomes, they find humor in dressing up as witches.


IT, the mighty brain on Camazotz, stands for conformity and authoritarian control. This symbol shows the human brain's capacity for progress and discovery, but also for evil and destruction.

IT gives off a compelling rhythmic pulse, similar to a heartbeat. Conformity has reached the hearts of the people on Camazotz. Meg feels the rhythm "control the systole and diastole of her heart." The damage of unchecked power penetrates deep into the body. IT controls the speech of the man with red eyes, and eventually takes control of Charles Wallace. They cannot communicate their own thoughts, and their speech is similar to propaganda—incorrect information spread to help a political cause, often used by dictators to control their subjects.

IT reveals the dangers of trusting intelligence to the exclusion of the heart and the soul. Even Charles Wallace, with his extraordinary brain, cannot fight IT with his intellect. He needs humanity and love as well.


The tesseract stands for freedom, possibilities, and the unknown. As the device allowing characters to travel through time and space, the tesseract represents a vehicle to other worlds.

Tessering terrifies Meg the first time. Her mind feels separate from her body, but the more she learns about the unfamiliar process, the more she discovers about the universe. Mrs Whatsit encourages her to think of space outside the three dimensions represented on Earth. Tessering allows characters to travel faster than the speed of light. The tesseract challenges everything Meg knows about math and geometry.

Whenever characters tesser, they end up in a completely new world. Sometimes the world is magical and illuminating, like planet Uriel. Sometimes it is frightening and evil, like planet Camazotz. Sometimes it is a strange learning experience, like planet Ixchel, but it always surprises. Tessering shows how the process of scientific discovery can lead down paths no one could previously have imagined.

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