Madeleine L’Engle’s award winning book, ‘A Wrinkle in Time,’ is a science fiction/fantasy book that involves travel through space and time. This lesson’s focus is on Uriel, a distant planet that plays an important role in the book.
So What Is Uriel and Why Does It Matter?
In a nutshell, Uriel is a fictional planet in Madeleine L’Engle’s sci-fi/fantasy book A Wrinkle in Time; ‘the third planet of the star Malak in the spiral nebula Messier 101,’ to quote the book exactly. It is a beautiful and peaceful planet, inhabited by beautiful and peaceful creatures.On the way to rescue Dr. Murry, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin make a pit stop on Uriel. The purpose for this pit stop, according to Mrs.
Whatsit, is ‘more or less to catch our breaths. And to give you (the children) a chance to know what you’re up against.’To fully understand this planet and its role in the story, a little background knowledge is important.
Good Verses Evil
The cosmic battle between good and evil is a major theme in A Wrinkle in Time.
Evil is represented by the Black Thing, a gigantic dark shadow that covers some planets in the universe. Those planets completely covered by the Black Thing are also controlled by evil, marked by both oppression and the absence of love. Camazotz is one such planet.Other planets, like Earth, are in a current and active battle against the Black Thing.
There is still hope for these planets.Uriel is a planet that has overcome the darkness, remaining untouched by the evil power of the Black Thing.
There are two important things to remember about Uriel:1.
It is a beautiful and peaceful place.2. It provides a safe place from which to view the Black Thing.
Peace and Beauty
Upon landing on Uriel, the children realize that it is a hospitable place. The views are fresh and colorful, the sounds generate peaceful feelings, and even the smells are good.
Think of Earth’s most beautiful physical features- mountains, flowers, blue skies, colorful fields. Uriel has all of this, but, unlike the land on Earth, it has not been corrupted by evil.
This quote from the book sums up Meg’s reaction to Uriel:’The grasses of the field were a tender new green, and scattered about were tiny, multicolored flowers…From the trees at the base of the mountain came a sudden singing of birds. There was an air of such ineffable peace and joy all around her that her heart’s wild thumping slowed.’The music on Uriel is also beautiful and peaceful. Without words, songs of praise stream from the large wings of Uriel’s majestic creatures.
The translation of this music is a reference to the book of Isaiah of the Old Testament in the Bible, beginning with the following verses.Sing unto the Lord a new song,and his praise from the end of the earth,ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein;the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift their voice..
References to the Bible tie Uriel to the faith-based beliefs of other beings in others times and places, further emphasizing the perspective of good and evil on the cosmic level.
Keeping Evil at Bay
Mrs. Whatsit guides the children on a tour of this beautiful planet and then stops at a high peak to give them a view of the Black Thing from a distance.
According to Mrs. Whatsit, ‘The atmosphere is so thin here that it does not obscure your vision as it would at home.’Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin now have a physical image of the evil they will soon face, and this image fills them with fear and dread.
The planet Uriel is a good and peaceful planet, one that is not under the influence of the Black Thing. In the story, Uriel provides Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin a place to rest before having to enter evil territory.
Uriel’s thin atmosphere provides them a clear view of the evil presence they must pass through on their way to Camazotz to rescue Dr. Murry.