A Wrinkle in Time

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Mrs. Which Character Analysis

Mrs. Which never seems to be able to fully materialize wherever they are, but the one time she does, it is as a witch on a broomstick, to the great amusement of Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who. She seems to be the head of their trio, the wisest and most experienced and most solemn of them all, though she is not as affectionate with the children as Mrs. Whatsit is.

Mrs. Which Quotes in A Wrinkle in Time

The A Wrinkle in Time quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Which or refer to Mrs. Which. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nonconformity Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Square Fish edition of A Wrinkle in Time published in 2007.
Chapter 5 Quotes

The Medium lost the delighted smile she had worn till then. "Oh, why must you make me look at unpleasant things when there are so many delightful ones to see?"
Again Mrs. Which's voice reverberated through the cave. "Therre will nno llonggerr bee sso many pplleasanntt thinggss too llookk att iff rressponssible ppeoplle ddo nnott ddoo ssomethingg abboutt thee unnppleasanntt oness."

Related Characters: Mrs. Which (speaker), The Happy Medium (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Black Thing
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

This is an example, again, of how focusing on appearances can lead people astray. The Happy Medium does not want to look at unpleasant things because it feels better to look at pleasant ones. Mrs. Which has the wisdom to acknowledge that even though it might be nicer to look at good things, the essences of those things are threatened by the essence of evil. Because of that, it is important to think beyond what is superficially pleasing and consider how to preserve the things we love and enjoy. As Mrs. Which suggests, this involves deep engagement with bad things. 

This scene is another one in which language is treated as more superficial than essence. Puns (like Mrs. Which appearing as a witch) are jokes about language itself, rather than about the concepts language attempts to evoke. This is also the case with The Happy Medium – Meg's mother wondered aloud in the first chapter if Meg would ever find "a happy medium." Of course, her mother's statement referred to Meg's inability to control her thoughts and actions, and the "Happy Medium" that Meg has found is a person. Language, here, is not corresponding to concepts as we thought it would, which shows that language is itself independent of the essence of the thing it represents. Later this idea will tie into the characters' inability to defeat evil through language and rationality.


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Chapter 11 Quotes

"Angels!" Calvin shouted suddenly from across the table. "Guardian angels!" There was a moment's silence, and he shouted again, his face tense with concentration, "Messengers! Messengers of God!"

Related Characters: Calvin O'Keefe (speaker), Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Meg is trying to explain to the beasts who the Mrs. W's are. Again, Meg's dependence on rationally describing their appearance leads her astray. For one, the beasts lack sight so this description is meaningless to them. More important, as L'Engle has repeatedly emphasized, appearance has nothing to do with essence, so a description focused on appearance is a poor representation of who somebody actually is.

Calvin – somebody whose strength has always been communication, and whose personal experiences have led him to understand the gulf between appearance and essence – has more success by describing the Mrs. W's as embodiments of good, or angels. It's important that Calvin uses the word "angels" to describe them, since the reference is explicitly Christian. While Christianity has hovered around the edges of the book, L'Engle has generally been careful to frame the moral conflict of the book in more general terms ("The Black Thing" rather than "satan," for example). Here, she is explicitly using a Christian term to describe fighters for good. It's unclear whether she means this as a metaphor or whether the Mrs. W's are literally angels, but it certainly makes it clear that Christianity is the underlying idea in the cosmology of the book.

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Mrs. Which Character Timeline in A Wrinkle in Time

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Which appears in A Wrinkle in Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
...Mrs. Who suddenly appear out of nowhere, and the children then meet their third companion, Mrs. Which , whose voice and appearance are strangely distorted (for her to fully materialize would be... (full context)
Chapter 4
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...with a tall mountain in the background. Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who materialize nearby, and Mrs. Which appears as a shimmery witch, which Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who find hilarious. The children... (full context)
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
At this point, at Mrs. Which 's command, Mrs. Whatsit shape-shifts into her real form. She is not a funny old... (full context)
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...be dimmed by a dark, terrifying shadow. When they return to the ground, Meg asks Mrs. Which if that Black Thing is what her father is fighting. (full context)
Chapter 5
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
Mrs. Which reveals that Mr. Murry has been captured and is behind the dark shadow. And they... (full context)
Christian References Theme Icon
When Calvin demands to know exactly what that dark shadow is, Mrs. Which tells him that it is Evil, the powers of darkness—and that they are going to... (full context)
Chapter 6
Christian References Theme Icon
...of light, gives its life to destroy the Darkness in a part of the galaxy. Mrs. Which reveals that that is what Mrs. Whatsit did: she was once a star, and gave... (full context)
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
...to communicate, to Meg, her faults, and to Charles, his childhood. Mrs. Who, who, like Mrs. Which , wasn't able to materialize fully on Camazotz, gives Calvin a quote from Shakespeare's The... (full context)
Chapter 8
Deceptive Appearances Theme Icon
...down and eats turkey dinner, he tells Meg and Calvin that they were wrong, that the Mrs. W's were their real enemies the whole time. He is colder, crueler, and stronger, and tells... (full context)
Chapter 11
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
Christian References Theme Icon
...in a rush. She tells them all sulkily that their only hope is to call the Mrs. W's . When the beasts ask her to explain who the Mrs. W's are, Meg is... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Value of Love Theme Icon
As in previous times when they've appeared, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which cannot fully materialize on the beasts' planet. Meg begins complaining to them about her father,... (full context)
The Value of Love Theme Icon
Language and Knowing Theme Icon
Christian References Theme Icon
...Beast, embraces her father lovingly, and, to her surprise, receives a kiss from Calvin. Again, the Mrs. W's each give Meg a gift for her journey. Mrs. Whatsit simply gives Meg her love,... (full context)