Essay on The stone angel

This essay has a total of 1557 words and 7 pages.


the stone angel





Hagar Shipley’s quest in The Stone Angel
In Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel, Hagar Shipley tells the story of her life
and by doing so, she tries to come to term with how the qualities that helped her have
also stripped her of her joy all throughout her life. She then hopes to get a deeper
understanding of herself and the notion of acceptance. So to say, The Stone Angel
recollects Hagar’s lifelong road towards self-understanding and freedom. In this
essay, I will begin by doing a retrospect of Hagar’s life and then analysing the
obstacles that came in the way of her quest all through the end of her life.

As said before, lets make a brief retrospect (of the major elements that marked her life)
of Hagar Shipley’s life in order to see her personality traits. First of all, she
was raised according to the strict values of her father, Jason Currie. When Hagar was
younger, her father applied severe control over her and taught her the importance of hard
work and self-reliance, all of which contributed to Hagar’s sense of independence
and cold personality later on in life. After her basic schooling, Hagar had the
“privilege” of attending the ladies’ academy in Toronto where she was
taught to be polite, elegant and mature. Her father had chosen her of all his children to
acquire a higher education because he thought that she was the only one who was worth it.
So, we can speculate that Jason Currie saw his own qualities reflect in Hagar. Her
attendance there proved that a certain sense of independence and strong will were very
present. But at the academy, as in her younger age, she felt superior to the other
ladies. Just like her father, Jason Currie, Hagar is very egotistical. She has a strong
character and so she is able to defy her father’s rules. Throughout her life, it
always seem as though Hagar wants to escape. First, she tries to escape her father to go
marry Brampton Shipley, but by doing so, she cuts the lines of communication between
herself and her brother Matt. Later on in life, she also manages to escape her husband
Brampton, for whom she became a housekeeper after their marriage. As Brampton Shipley
began to drink more and more alcohol, he was providing less to his wife and children. So,
Hagar was obliged to go to work selling eggs door to door in order to make extra money to
support her family. One day, while selling eggs, she ended up at Lottie Drieser’s
doorsteps. Because she always felt superior to Lottie, this incident was one of the first
to cause Hagar to see herself as the person that she had become and so her pride took a
hard beating. Now that her image was ruined, she was forced to leave Bram and move away
because it was the only way to maintain some sort of pride and dignity. She didn’t
want to be seen by the others in a state of misery.

Throughout her life, Hagar’s pride gets in the way of many things, such as her quest
to be free and to discover her true self. Near her death, Hagar has little to look back on
with pride. Her life had been ruled by superficial elements, so her biggest concerns were
towards appearances and manners. She lived a life of constant chaos because of her
arrogance and her endless worry of everybody’s opinion. Even in her final minutes of
her life, her pride won’t allow herself to accept any help from her daughter in law
or even the nurse at the hospital. So, we could say that Hagar led a life of stubborn
pride. So, after she realizes the irony that a woman of her qualities had become a maid,
Hagar feels trapped. This shows us that Hagar is imprisoned of her own emotions and her
pride; “I was alone, never anything else, and never free, for I carried my chains
within me,” (Laurence, 292). Secondly, she tries to escape from her own poor
qualities to which she is captive; attempting to fill the emptiness within her. Finally,
she tries to escape death. All of these attempts fail.

As I have mentioned earlier, I believe that it was Hagar’s pride that took out the
joy in her life. Beginning very early in Hagar’s life, she learns of her
father’s pride and self-esteem and learns to do the same. When Hagar began to make
her own decisions in life, it became evident that she too made every decision based on
egotism. She did exactly what she wanted to do, even if she knew it wasn’t right
either (like marrying Bram).In her middle age, Hagar showed her strong sense of pride
occasionally. For instance, she lied to her employer saying that she was a widow because
she didn’t want to embarrass herself with stories of her past husband. She also
discourages her son John from marrying Arlene (Lottie’s daughter) because she still
considered herself to be better than Lottie, or even better than anyone. There is also a
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