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Hager Shipley in “The Stone Angel” Essay

In Margaret Laurence’s novel, “The Stone Angel”, Hagar Shipley is the main character. Born the daughter of Jason Currie, she is one who possesses incredible depth in character. Mingling past and present, we observe the very qualities, which sustained her and deprived her of joy such as her lack of emotional expression. As well, inheriting her father’s harsh qualities, she exhibited pride that detested weakness in any form. Despite of her negative attributes she also displayed a positive mannerism through courage. Thus, Hagar is a cold, but strong willed woman. Such qualities give us a portrait of a remarkable character. Hagar’s most noticeable characteristic was her lack of feeling and emotion.

Indeed there where many situations where she could not physically express what she felt in her heart. She did not cry at the death of her son John. That night she was “transformed to stone and never wept at all (Laurence 243)”. During Marvin’s childhood, she would impatiently dismiss him due to his slowness of speech. Once when an ecstatic Marvin told Hagar that he finished his chores, Hagar bluntly sends him away saying, “I can see you’ve finished. I’ve got eyes. Get along now ¼ (Laurence 112)”. Even as a child she was lacked emotion when she could not provide comfort to her dying brother, Daniel. Daniel needed the comfort of his mother, but for Hagar, “to play at being her – it was beyond me (Laurence 25).” Indeed, Hagar’s deficiency in feeling or expressing emotion was a visible characteristic throughout the novel.

As a result of her upbringing, Hagar possesses pride that despises weakness in any form. As a young girl she displayed this trait when her dad slapped her hand, “I wouldn’t let him see me cry, I was so enraged (Laurence 9).” As previously mentioned before, Hagar could not portray her mother to comfort her dying brother. She characterized her mother as “the woman Dan was said to resemble so much and from whom he’d inherited a frailty I could not help but detest (Laurence 25).” When Hagar brought upon the subject of marriage with Bram Shipley to her father he made it clear that “there’s not a decent girl in this town would wed without her family’s consent (Laurence 49).” Hagar rebelliously responded, “It will be done by me (Laurence 49)” and eventually marries Bram. Thus, throughout the novel, Hagar’s attribute of scornful pride is evidently exhibited.

In contrast to her negative character, Hagar exhibits a great deal of courage. Following Hagar’s marriage to Bram, she immediately faced the reality of the life. The next day Hagar cleaned the house inside out. “I had never scrubbed a floor in my life, but I worked that day as though I’d been driven by a whip (Laurence 52).” Hagar also had the courage to leave Bram for the sake of her children’s future. Physically, Hagar did not lack courage. At the age of 90, Hagar was able to painfully endure her journey to Shadow Point. Thus, her courageous character classifies her as a strong willed woman.

There’s no question that Hagar, young or old, is a cold yet courageous woman. She was deficient in physically expressing her feelings and emotions. She also possessed an unbending pride, which despised weakness in any form. However, despite of her negative attributes she still exhibits a positive aspect through her courage. Hagar’s character has such immense depth. She may not be perfect; nevertheless she is unique.

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