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Hagar is to Blame for her own Misfurtune in Margaret Lawrence's The Stone Angel

Satisfactory Essays
It is impossible to avoid unpleasant situations throughout an individual’s lifetime, especially if they are a result of bad luck or another combination of events beyond one’s control. Misfortune however can also be self-inflicted. This particular case is apparent in Margaret Lawrence’s The Stone Angel, a novel in which the protagonist, Hagar Shipley’s continuous misfortune is a direct result of several of her character flaws. An exaggerated sense of pride, a lack of compassion and empathy and an inability to communicate clearly are Hagar’s most prominent character flaws, and perpetually bring about misfortune.

Many of Hagar’s relationships have been hindered, or have eventually deteriorated as a result of her exaggerated sense of pride. Because of this her misfortune in relationships is self inflicted, as she decides consciously or unconsciously to sustain her pride rather than her relationships. When Hagar decides to marry Brampton Shipley, a man thought to be unsuitable for someone of her social status, her father literally forbids her to wed. He tells Hagar that his thoughts are solely for her welfare and that to marry without a fathers consent is simply not done. More to spite him rather than to defend her personal conviction, Hagar says “It’ll be done by me.” (Laurence 49). This defiant and rash remark results in the loss of her father’s relationship, and the loss of of her sound financial future, as Hagar is left no money in her father’s will. Her decision is clearly based on pride. Similar behavior is seen throughout the novel.

Another unattractive personality trait of Hagar’s is her insensitivity to others. Hagar consistently focuses on herself and does not empathize with others in a situation, regardless of their difficult circumstances. This is destructive to her relationships. Individuals would not feel as if they mattered. This lack of empathy also explains her inability to generate new relationships. An example is when Hagar’s son Marvin and daughter in law Doris, confront Hagar about their inadequate physical or emotional capabilities to care for her. They then suggest she move into a retirement home. After a long argument, Hagar is reduced to tears. Marvin and Doris are then distressed - Hagar simply says “Good. They’re frightened. I hope they’re scared to death.” (Lawrence 77). This lack of empathy causes Hagar’s insensitivity to Doris even though Doris herself is not in prime physical condition.
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