Stone Angel - Hagar as a Product of her Environment
Since the commencement of our world, there have been those such as Hitler, Einstein and Hitchcock, whose very name stands apart from the masses; their distinct aura symbolized something far greater than just a simple human life. Such a statement can be applied to Hagar Shipley, the protagonist from the novel The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, and hold true. Hager is a unique character, whose essence rises above others, such that after understanding the journey of her life, her first name evokes a series of emotion within the reader. Due to her crass nature and uncompromising pride, one questions if the prestigious background of the Currie clan sculpted such. In addition, during her young life set in the nineteenth century Manawaka society, a high importance was placed on social status. This feeling of superiority over others traveled with Hagar into womanhood. Although it may be argued that one possess the ability to control her own existence, when the intricate web of elements that complete Hagar's life are considered, it becomes evident that her life, in its entity, is a consequence of her environment.
Throughout the period of her childhood, Hagar was relentlessly educated of the Currie family glory. Her father exuberantly reminded the children that the "Curries are Highlanders" (Laurence, 15) from the "Sept of the Clanranald MacDonalds" (Laurence, 15). Such self-righteous episodes, installed a false pride deep within young Hagar, as she wholeheartedly believed that her wealthy Scottish relatives "lived in castles"(Laurence, 15). This exaggeration of the Currie past fueled Hagar's feeling of superiority over others. It was this Currie pride and the platter on which it was presented to Hagar, that was the root of her tendencies to pass condescending judgments upon individuals. To illustrate, regardless of the care that Aunty Doll provided Hagar over the years, she thought of her as "a homely woman with her sallow skin"(Laurence, 17), snubbing her merely because she was hired help. Furthermore, Hagar's "God-fearing" (Laurence, 16) father who pulled "himself up by his boot straps" (Laurence, 14), seeded her immense dislike for human weakness. To elaborate, Hagar states, "for she was a flimsy, gutless creature"(Laurence, 4) about her own "ungrateful fox-voiced mother" (Laurence, 4). Hagar detested her own mother because she perceived her as weak, a characteristic her father taught her to hate. Right through the novel, we see very little humanistic qualities of Hagar, but more accurately an immovable stone figure filled with Currie pride.
The arrogance deeply embedded within Hagar, was not only an inheritance from her father and the Currie past, since the values and beliefs of nineteenth century Manawaka also fashioned her persona. During this era, the society was divided into social classes, and due to her uncompromising pride, Hagar desired...