Prompt: In many works of literature, past events can affect, positively or negatively, the present activities, attitudes, or values of a character. Choose a novel or play in which a character must contend with some aspect of the past, either personal or social. Then write an essay in which you show how the characters relationship to the past contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. (2007)
Children are easily persuaded. In coordination with their innocence, children are impressionable to certain emotional responses, personality traits, and general social behaviors. In Margaret Laurence’s fictitious novel, The Stone Angel, this aspect of the human condition is portrayed through the main character of Hagar Shipley. This protagonist by convention allows the pride she obtained from her father, Jason Currie, to negatively affect her ability to build foundations towards worthwhile relationships. This behavior is displayed through her actions with characters such as: Jason Currie himself, Bram Shipley, and Marvin Shipley. This being the source of the majority of her problems. In other words, it can be said that Laurence uses the character of Hagar Shipley in the novel, The Stone Angel, to show how a child at a young age is easily, socially influenced by an adult figure. The influence can be one of pride; therefore, one may neglect care from others and as a result, fail to build meaningful relationships throughout an individuals life.
Hagar Shipley has always been an independent and headstrong person; however, as a child, these character traits were only starting to develop. Initially, through the influence of her dominant and overpowering father, Hagar learns the importance of authoritative rule and pride in establishing a foundation to ones name. In a scene in which Hagar was scolded, she refused to cry, this lead her father to justify that “you are a true Shipley – headstrong, just like me”. However, just as Jason Currie’s sense of pride impersonated upon Hagar, this was ultimately the reason as to why she rebelled and went against her father’s wishes. Through the accumulation of her pride and individualism, along with her fathers persistent rule; this propels Hagar to finally rebel and go against his wishes by marrying Bram Shipley. Not only destroying her relationship with her father, but also displaying the human condition in which an individual becomes over stimulated with dominating character flaws, such as pride, this may become a future vice and leave a negative impact.
Hagar’s rebellion against her father further shows the lasting impact of his legacy upon her. Further on in the novel, Hagar’s father had given her a ultimatum regarding her marriage with Bram: “marry him and you will never be seen the same in this family or abandon Bram and save your dignity and image”. Not only was Hagar deceivingly in love with Bram – a lower class, less worthy man – she was also fueled by a motivation for independence, continuously supported due to her pride. However, this act of rebellion only stimulated more pain for Hagar. She could not have thought that she had left one dominating relationship with her father, to find herself in another: her marriage with Bram. Their marriage had been unsuccessful and at times, extremely chaotic. Once again, the impact of Jason Currie’s pride upon his daughter has lead her to destroy another potentially meaningful relationship. Therefore, it can be said that a parent’s influence can be carried throughout an individual’s life, affecting relationships and one never truly understanding its impact.
Finally, as Hagar Shipley ages, she is forced to be taken after by her son Marvin Shipley and Doris Shipley; this family dynamic only increases tension and further brings out Hagar’s pride. As a direct result of Hagar’s frail body and failing health, she is unable to care for herself. Often tripping over objects – an example being the lamp on the ground – and injuring herself, Doris becomes irritated with her lack of self awareness. Pleading Marvin to take Doris into a nursing home for elderly. This news makes Hagar extremely unhappy for having to be taken care of others hurts her pride. Furthermore, her consistent struggle fails to allow a meaningful relationship to be formed with Marvin and Doris. In the end, Hagar never questioned the affect of her father actions, constantly allowing her pride to hinder her ability to build connections throughout her life. As displayed, an individual may never forget skills and traits learnt from a young age – allowing negative traits to define one as an individual.
Concluding, through following the main character, Hagar, in Margaret Laurence’s coming of age novel, The Stone Angel, it is predictable that a loss of meaningful connections will be established due to a n early inheritance of negative traits, such as pride.As shown through the three characters – Hagar’s father, Bram Shipley, and Marvin Shipley – Hagar does not allow for a close connection to be developed. First through her adaption of her fathers traits, and later using it to rebel. Then, falsely believing she had independence due to marrying Bram, Hagar finds herself in the same dominating situation as she as in with her father – this shows the unreliability on ones pride. Lastly, once again, her pride dominating her relationship with Doris and Marvin Shipley, neglecting yet another possible meaningful relationship. Being incredibly unhappy with her situation and her shattered pride, Hagar doesn’t learn a lesson, and instead, pursuits her own motivations – once again, completely neglecting a need to build meaningful connections throughout life. Therefore, when a person reaches one’s elderly years, it is possible they never realize the lasting impact an adult figure has upon them; thus, never able to correct one’s negative behaviors.