Black Thing from “A Wrinkle in Time”

the-black-thingOf all the symbols in A Wrinkle in Time, the Black Thing is perhaps the easiest to decipher. It’s evil! That’s it. Pure, out-and-out, Darth Vader-spawning evil. Many of the important symbols in A Wrinkle in Time are understood to represent various aspects of the human condition. The Black Thing is Wrinkle in Time’s chief antagonist, however, and simply represents the capacity for people to do evil things.

A Battle that Spans the Universe

In A Wrinkle in Time, the tesseract must be used by the characters before they can even reach a planet that lets them adequately see the Black Thing. A Wrinkle in Time involves a great deal of symbols, but the Black Thing is probably the most straightforward of them all. It’s described as having made its way through the universe, consuming planets as it does so.

When we first meet it, it’s in the process of consuming Earth. Much of the symbolism in A Wrinkle in Time helps to inform our understanding of the children’s fight against the Black Thing, which in turn joins with the other symbols in A Wrinkle in Time to describe the universal fight for all things good.

The Depths of Human Emotion

In A Wrinkle in Time, the tesseract helps the children in their quest to do battle against the Black Thing. A Wrinkle in Time contains a few different messages, and one of the main ones is the power of the human intellect and emotion. The Black Thing helps to strengthen the symbolism in A Wrinkle in Time by illustrating the absolute worst capabilities of human intellect and emotion.

Through the Tesseract, A Wrinkle in Time helps to illustrate this point. Before they can even observe the Black Thing the characters in A Wrinkle in Time use the tesseract to travel through the universe to a distant planet. The Black Thing isn’t easily reached, and it’s even tougher to see…especially since Earth is partially consumed by it.

Another instance in A Wrinkle in Time where the tesseract is important involves Meg and her travels. Much of the symbolism in A Wrinkle in Time involves Meg, and when she passes through the Black Thing, she experiences a spiritual death of sorts. This helps to make the Black Thing one of the most important symbols in A Wrinkle in Time, and also illustrates the capabilities of this side of human emotion.

Not Completely Unbeatable

Though the Black Thing is incredibly powerful, it helps illustrate the symbolism in A Wrinkle in Time through its ability to be defeated. Various planets throughout the universe are actively fighting the Black Thing in A Wrinkle in Time, and with the tesseract, the children will be able to keep doing so as well.

There are a great deal of symbols in Madeline L’Engle’s classic science fiction novel, and by giving us such a bleak and fearsome antagonist, the author was also able to give us one of the most compelling symbols in literary history.