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The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence

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In her novel The Stone Angel, Margaret Laurence uses the stone angel monument to embody the qualities of Hagar . Over the course of the novel, Hagar reflects back on the memories that have made up her life. Hagar's loneliness and depression are self induced and brought on by her pride, lack of emotion, stubbornness and the ignorance which she has towards anyone's opinion but her own. The qualities of Hagar are identical with those possessed by the stone angel monument and paralleled by Laurence many times throughout the novel. The angel was certainly not a suitable statue to mark the death of Mrs. Currie as it was uncharacteristic of her. The statue of the angel is a more fitting representation of Hagar's father Jason Currie and hence suits Hagar because her personality was undoubtedly inherited from her father. The pride inherited from her father causes her much trouble throughout life as it seems to be the main root of her problems. Hagar's lack of emotion is also consistent with the characteristics of the stone angel. Her inability to show true emotion effects her a lot later in life and is the main reason she is unable to keep a relationship. Hagar's stubbornness can also be connected to the stone angel monument in the sense that the Angel never moves and is also very set in its ways. The Stone Angel monument was created without eyes. Hagar is also blind in the sense that she is ignorant to the opinions and thoughts of others. The above qualities are shared by Hagar and the Stone angel, and are in essence the reason behind Hagar's never-ending escape from family and her problems.

One of the most dominant emotions shown in The Stone Angel is pride. Pride is a sense of one's own proper dignity or value. Most of Hager's loneliness comes from her belief that she is socially above everyone else, regardless of what happens to her. This pride is inherited from her father who is very proud of his social standing and openly flaunts it. The Stone angel monument is a symbol of pride itself as it was brought from Italy to show the wealth and power of Jason Currie but purposely to mark the grave of his dead wife. "She was not the only angel in the Manawaka cemetery, but she was the first, the largest, and certainly the costliest."(Laurence 3) There is also another form of pride most easily displayed in the fact that the only time Hagar cries throughout all her tragedies and lost loved ones is at the Doctor's office. "I prided myself upon keeping my pride intact, like some maidenhead" (Laurence, 81) Hagar speaks of self-pride being similar to possessing your virginity. It gives her that sense of decency and well being. Just as Hagar believes she is above everyone else, she also believes The Stone Angel is above all of the other gravestones, describing them as a lesser breed and insufficient in marking the death of the deceased. "The others, as I recall were a lesser breed entirely, petty angels, cherubim with pouting stone mouths" (Laurence 4) Hagar's pride can be easily associated with her lack of emotion and unwillingness to let herself cry.

Hagar's ability to hide her true emotion starts in early childhood and is something she uses frequently later in life. "I wouldn't let him see me cry, I was so enraged. He used a foot ruler, and when I jerked my smarting palms back, he made me hold them out again." (Laurence 9) Hagar's father straps her hands with a ruler but she knows she has to be strong and not let him see that it hurts her. When Hagar's brother Dan is dying after falling through the ice she cannot find it in her "stone-cold" heart to wear her mother's old plaid shawl to act as if she was her mother. Hagar will not do this because she cannot perish the thought of pretending to be someone as feeble as her mother. When her son John dies she does not weep, almost as if she was made of stone. "The night my son died I was transformed to stone and never wept at all." (Laurence 243) Hagar believed if she cried it would damage her pride and make her appear weak. She would simply not have people think that. "I wouldn't cry in front of strangers, whatever it cost me." (Laurence 242) Hagar makes love to Bram and never lets him know that she enjoyed it. "He never knew. I never let him know. I never spoke aloud, and I made certain the trembling was all inner." (Laurence 81) She could never allow others to know how she felt. Hagar remained emotionless throughout her life. When Bram dies Hagar does not even dare to shed a tear. "But when we'd bury Bram and come home again and lighted lamps for the evening, it was John

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