Relationships in Margaret Laurence's "The Stone Angel"

Essay by mureddaaCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2003

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In Margaret Laurence's novel, The Stone Angel, Hagar Shipley experiences many different relationships. The key relationships in her life are all with men; her respectful but cold relationship with her father, her impersonal relationship with her husband Bram Shipley, her one-sided, protective relationship with John, and her distant but ultimately redeemed relationship with Marvin are each important aspects of her life.

Hagar's first key relationship is with her father, Jason Currie. This relationship has its basis in mutual respect. Hagar has tremendous respect for her father as a child; she admires his ability to make his own life as a successful storeowner by rising above his initial state of poverty and going from nothing to something. She admires this ability because it shows a sense of perseverance and determination that she herself values. Additionally, it is crucial to her respect that he achieves his standing in life through his strong-will; he made it in life by being strong and forceful rather than by putting his emphasis on emotions.

This strong-willed personality and unwillingness to show a form of weakness through emotions - forms of pride - become cornerstones of Hagar's own character. Indeed, the key factor in the relationship between Hagar and her father is that they have a similar personality. Both insist on proving their strength and pride, stopping either of them from being able to connect to the other on an emotional level. This pride is evident in her father's punishment of her when she tells a customer that there are bugs in his store as a child; he clearly takes great pride in his work. Hagar too is proud, to the point of resisting her need to cry when her father hits her. She gains his resolve to put forth the image of strength at all...