Mrs Which in “A Wrinkle in Time” as a Symbol

Mrs Which as a Symbol

Wrinkle-In-Time-CoverAs perhaps the oldest character in A Wrinkle in Time, Mrs Which winds up being one of the most important symbols in Madeline L’Engle’s classic science fiction novel.

True Wisdom Is Tough to Pin Down

Much of the symbolism in A Wrinkle in Time helps to illustrate the idea that true enlightenment involves a lot more than the things we’re capable of understanding here on Earth. As one of the most important characters in A Wrinkle in Time, Mrs Which helps to drive this idea home by being the toughest one to pin down.

Right off the bat Mrs Which is introduced as being the oldest character, and she’s never able to fully materialize. This idea winds up being important to many of the symbols in A Wrinkle in Time and helps the children to understand that there is much they might not be able to immediately see or understand right away. As a celestial being, Mrs Which is definitely one of the most interesting characters in A Wrinkle in Time, and the conditions that surround her appearance make it clear that she’s an important symbol in A Wrinkle in Time, as well.

The Higher Self

Throughout A Wrinkle in Time, Mrs Which comes across as the authority figure of the bunch. She’s less direct in her friendliness when compared with the other celestial characters in A Wrinkle in Time, and has something of a no-nonsense approach. Still, she’s able to laugh at her own mistakes (or shortcomings), which is something other characters must learn to do. Much of the symbolism in A Wrinkle in Time stems from this idea.

In this way, Mrs Which fits in with some of the more metaphysical symbolism in A Wrinkle in Time, and can perhaps be seen as a representation of humanity’s “higher self,” or the parts of our consciousness that give us guidance and direction when we need it.

During most of A Wrinkle in Time, Mrs Which is experienced primarily as a presence, and never as a well-defined materialization. She possesses wisdom, leadership skills, and moral clarity that other characters don’t have in A Wrinkle in Time; Mrs Which is truly enlightened.

A Play on Words

Of course, L’Engle loves wordplay, and this preference is evidenced through many of the symbols in A Wrinkle in Time. Mrs Which, for one thing, is initially presented looking like a traditional “witch.” Later this is revealed to be something of a bit of trickery on her part, as a big part of the symbolism in A Wrinkle in Time is designed to show us that things are almost never as simple as they appear.