The Power and Wisdom of ‘Mrs. Who’

Picking up A Wrinkle in Time a few decades after my first reading, it was this mysterious character who stood out to me most.

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Posted in , Apr 5, 2018

Reading

Excited about the release of Ana DuVernay’s film version of the 1962 Madeleine L’Engle classic science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time, I picked up a paperback copy and dove in. More accurately I dove back in, having read the series for the first time as a tween. What I remembered most from my childhood encounter with the book was Meg, the strong, shy, smart protagonists, and her mysterious journey across the cosmos. 

Re-reading this childhood classic with adult eyes, I was surprised at which character leaped at me off the page. It was Mrs. Who, the bespectacled member of a trio of supernatural beings who guide Meg and her companions on their journey. Mrs. Who has trouble finding the words to express her thoughts and feelings, so she speaks mainly in quotations. She quotes philosophers, scripture and Shakespeare—repeatedly from The Tempest

These three of her quotes gave me pause and made me think:

“Nothing deters a good man from doing what is honorable.” (Seneca)

“How small is the earth to him who looks from heaven.” (Delille)

“And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:5)

Quotes take us outside of our own thoughts and into another’s, just for a sentence or two. Whether they are inspiring, thought-provoking, wise or just plain beautiful, examining short bits of others’ minds next to our own realities can be expansive. 

It wasn’t lost on me that Mrs. Who provides Meg with the glasses that enable her to overcome a significant obstacle and complete her task (no spoilers!). Glasses, after all, bring the world into focus, sharpen our views, and show us things we would have otherwise missed. That is Mrs. Who’s strength. And, however we might communicate to others, it can be our strength as well. With the right words—our own, or others’—at our disposal, we have the power to be a force for positive action in the world.

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