83 pages 2 hours read

Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1968

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Symbols & Motifs

Light and Dark

Le Guin often uses imagery of light and dark in her writing. She describes the Archmage, as Ged first meets him, as seeming “as if all darkness […] had been leached out of him by the slow usage of the years, leaving him white and worn as driftwood that has been a century adrift” (41). A great wizard and a good man who eventually sacrifices his life to save Ged, the Archmage is cast in light colors to emphasize this goodness and superiority.

Though Le Guin uses the imagery of light and dark separately, she combines them far more often. When Ged first awakes after unleashing the shadow, he is overcome by the lightness of the world. Le Guin writes that “[s]ince the darkness of that night on Roke Knoll he had known only darkness. Now he saw daylight, and the sun shining. He hid his scarred face in his hands and wept” (76). Even in simple descriptions of the scenery, Le Guin ties light and dark together; she writes of “the sky that darkened where the sun had set” and “the new moon shone: a ring of ivory, a rim of horn, reflected sunlight shining across the ocean of the dark” (213).