Thursday, April 20, 2006

Blog 6 - Evil and Education

In A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle depicts several manifestations of evil. Given that this novel is, in fact, a children’s book, it is important to note to overt characteristics of evil presented in the story thus far, through chapter eight. “For a moment there was the darkness of space; then another planet. The outlines of this planet were not clean and clear. It seemed to be covered with a smoky haze” (L’Engle 87). This begins L’Engle’s comments on the haze that has settled around the modern world; she uses the “Dark Thing” as a characterization of the evil that currently exists. Shortly after the Dark Thing is defined as evil itself, L’Engle invokes her characters to see the historical figures who have fought this evil. “‘Jesus!’ Charles Wallace said. ‘Why of course, Jesus!’ ‘Of course!’ Mrs. Whatsit said. ‘Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They’ve been lights for us to see by’” (89). Here it is made clear that L’Engle shares C.S. Lewis’ views on educating youth through literature. Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Ghandi, Buddha, Beethoven, Rembrandt, St. Francis, and Copernicus are also mentioned. This suggests that L’Engle felt strongly that children should not only know, but also know the effects and the good that came of artists, musicians, revolutionaries, saints, and scientists. These categories also happen to represent a liberal arts approach to education, the focus on the whole, as opposed to a singular subject. L’Engle places these references to evil and, more importantly, those who fight evil in our world, at the forefront of the novel and of the conflict between good and evil, demonstrating the great influence of Lewis on her literary career. As for Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin, with predecessors like da Vinci and Ghandi it is hard to think of failure as an option. Hopefully, our young protagonists will use their education and knowledge to fulfill their purposes.


Blogger Dale Sullivan said...

It is an interesting question, isn't it, that notion that education, especially a liberal arts education, someone fights against barbarism and evil. In Abolition of Man, Lewis argued, citing Plato and Aristotle, that human children are by nature barbarians who need to be humanized through education. It's the old nomos/physis (culture/nature) argument. Is virtue a natural gift given tothe strong or is it something enculturated?

5:25 AM  

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