Free Spirits Can Lift Us All The Stone Angel by Margret Laurence

Essay by justine1991High School, 12th gradeA, March 2008

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Free Spirits Can Lift Us All. The essay I chose to read, to help me further understand the novel, ‘The Stone Angel’ by Margaret Laurence, explains in depth the other uses of imagery. In my first essay I wrote of the imagery of the stone angel, and its representations of Hagar. ‘Imagery In The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence’ illustrates Laurence’s other uses of imagery in the novel. Without reading this essay I was quite unaware of the significance of the other images and symbols the novel contained. It opened the novel to be enjoyed by so many other aspects.

The potency of the biblical imagery and amount of religion in the novel is slightly ironic, for at one point Hagar questions if there is a god. She is stuck in Shadow Point and claims if there were a god she would not be there.

Hagar looses faith in many things, as she ages she examines her life through short recollections. She tries to run away from death, clearly doubting god, as a strong believer would not fear death but rather apprehend and look forward to the concept of purgatory and to heaven. It can be believed that Margaret Laurence based the plot of her novel on the biblical character, Hagar, as the similarities are great. The fictitious Hagar does, however make reference to the biblical Hagar’s life. "I wish he could have looked like Jacob then, wrestling with the angel and besting it, wringing a blessing from it with his might. But no." (159). Doris tried to bring Hagar to church with her, although she refuses she finds herself speaking and visiting with Mr.Troy, the minister of Doris’ church, regularly. Due to the many reoccurrences of religion and biblical imagery in the ‘The Stone Angel’, it can be viewed as a religious novel.

The water imagery in the novel is my personal favorite. Water symbolizes death and life and the cleansing of sins. It is such a powerful image that says so much each time Laurence uses it. When Hagar is parched and cannot find a drop of water it not only foreshadows her death, but indicated the amount of free spirit she has lacked her entire life. In her last moments debating whether to accept her daughter in laws help or not over a glass of water shows how stubborn she is and although she has come to the realization that she has lived life with out really living it, she is still stubborn and resistant. The glass of water was to be the thing to cleans her soul prior to her passing, yet she cannot drink it because of her pride, and refuses Doris’ help.

I only defeat myself by not accepting her. I know this - I know it very well. But I can't help it - it's my nature. I'll drink from this glass, or spill it, just as I choose. I’ll not countenance anyone else’s holding it for me. And yet – if she were in my place, I’d think her daft, and push her hands away, certain I could hold it for her better.(308)To state that if some one else were in her place, and her to be the one helping them, she would insist she helps, yet to refuse the help of some one who has so intently and unconditionally cared, shows that although Hagar may have realized her pride has limited her enjoyment and fulfilment of life, she has not matured nor learned from it.

The flower imagery again foreshadows Hagar’s death. Previously I thought nothing of the mention of the flowers, but brought to my attention by the essay I chose to read, they are a very pertinent part of the story. The Marigolds Hagar grew continually died because they could not live in the artificial conditions she created for them is a parallel to her life. She could not happily live the artificial life she led, emotionless. It is ironic that it was Hagar who cultivated the Marigolds, and her own life to some extent, but never grew to change so she could be happy. Hagar loved the flowers that grew wildly at the Shipley place, although, she never let her marigold’s grow wildly, similarly she never was ‘natural’, in that she never showed emotion. The flowers they weaved in to wreaths for the dead, and the seagull flying in the window were all to foreshadow her death, as well objects of nature just as her death was.

Hagar Shipley lived a very lonesome life, never sharing her feelings with anybody. Her life was similar to that of the biblical Hagar, she looked to religion many times through her life, she attended church as a child and through adulthood. Water symbolizes so much in Laurence’s novel, it symbolizes mainly the free spirit ways of life that Hagar never led and her conservativeness, as well as foreshadowing her death. Flowers in the novel illustrate Hagar’s lack of adventure and her unnatural ways of living, and never sharing emotion, even with her loved ones. I believe if Hagar had overcome her pride and grown to love more she could have lived a longer happier life, it is a tragedy she died so unhappy.

Biliography: The Stone Angel By Margret Laurence