Thursday 10 May 2018

Heroine Fix: Celebrating Angry Girls with Meg Murry

Heroine Fix is a monthly feature looking at characters that I admire and who influence my own writing. (Warning: this article will contain spoilers.)

A Wrinkle In Time was one of the first books that came alive for me and that I connected to in a meaningful way.  I was hugely excited with the new Disney movie as it was so visually gorgeous and was a chance to bring this world to life.  However, I was a little disappointed that they shifted emphasis on one of my favourite aspects of the character: Meg's anger being a strength.

In the new film, Meg's anger and distrust is referred to as a sign of darkness inside her, which is a major threat within the Wrinkle universe.  Mrs. Whatsit expresses doubt and distrust about Meg and whether or not she'll be able to succeed in the mission to defeat the darkness in the universe (IT and the Echthroi for those familiar with the series).  She suggests leaving Meg behind multiple times.

One of the reasons why I connected strongly with Meg was because of her anger.  I was also picked on at school by teachers and students and I got so tired of the message that I needed to be calm and understanding and not do anything to cause trouble.  Meg's anger gave her strength.  She tells the Happy Medium: "It really helped ever so much because it made me mad and when I'm mad I don't have room to be scared."

Anger gets a bad reputation in our society.  In another Disney film Inside Out the characters learn the value of sadness: that it allows others to know when we need help and consideration.  But they didn't cover the value of anger: it alerts us to when something is wrong.

The actions we take when angry aren't always good choices, but anger itself is a valuable emotional tool.  There are many things in life that should make us angry.

In the original book, A Wrinkle In Time, (which I highly recommend reading even as an adult) the enemy isn't anger, it's hatred.  I think that's an important distinction to make.  The evil IT thrives on hatred, especially for anything that is different.  Anything inconvenient, inefficient or different is destroyed, creating the terrifying sameness of Camazotz.  In contrast, the creatures of Ixchel are truly alien but are caring and loving.  It was a very powerful illustrations of a person's actions counting more than their appearance.

Meg survives Camazotz and rescues her father and brother because she is angry and questions authority, something that children in general and girls in particular are discouraged from doing.  She doesn't take what the adults around her say on faith, demanding answers.  Part of her character arc is to learn that she cannot wait for adults to do things for her, when something is wrong she has to take action herself.  Her faults allow her to see problems that others don't and her stubbornness and determination allow her to fight for what needs to happen.  She's a magnificent role model, especially for girls, and has influenced all of my rebellious heroines.

The evil IT encourages Meg to relax and accept what's going on.  "On this planet everything is in perfect order because everyone has learned to relax, to give in, and submit."  Too often, we're encouraged to do exactly that.  Just accept the world as it is rather than going to the effort to fight it.  Meg doesn't accept it and she fights.  The book doesn't shy away from showing the difficulty and loneliness of being a fighter, but it also celebrates it.

Many of the modern YA heroines are emotionally passive, even when they are also revolutionaries.  They are numb to the outrages around them.  Meg is raw and unfiltered, demanding that things need to be fixed.  And I, for one, am glad that I found her.

Keep reading for more information on next month's Heroine Fix and a special offer on my books.

Are you addicted to strong and interesting heroines like I am?  Share your favourite heroines with me on Twitter (@jclewisupdate) with the hashtag #HeroineFix

And if you like to check out my strong, rebellious heroines who keep fighting until things are made right, right now you can pick up the first book in the Lalassu series, Revelations, for less than the price of a cup of coffee.  

A secret society of superheroes is living among us and someone is beginning to collect them.  Dani and Michael team up to find the ones they care about but the chemistry between them threatens to unlock an ancient and powerful threat.

Previous blogpost: Some Thoughts on Cliff-Hangers

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Previous Heroine Fix: Crafting A Great Bad Girl - Letty from Good Behaviour

Revelations is now available at a wide variety of ebook retailers for only $ 0.99 US.

Next month's Heroine Fix will look at Quake from Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Join me on June 14th to celebrate one of the newest additions to the take-no-prisoners ladies of Marvel.

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