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The Stone Angel: Independance in Marriage

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There is much emphasis on being independent and doing things for yourself in society that people are turning cold and are merely looking out for themselves. It is getting to the point that a husband or wife can not really be relied on because almost half of all marriages end in divorce. Maybe looking out for one's self is the logical response, since that is the only person one can rely on. What is it that makes a person independent? Does being independent mean being alone, being domineering towards others, being excessively proud, or being egotistical? Can someone be married and friendly to others and still be truly independent?

Margaret Laurence's novel The Stone Angel shows that true independence need neither begin at a young age nor end at a certain point. This is clearly portrayed by the main character Hagar Shipley, who at the age of ninety is still a woman who at least tried to make her own decisions, despite obvious age related limitations. Being too independent can affect personal relationships, yet on the other end of the spectrum, being too dependent on other people could cause others to view you as a burden. So what is the happy medium here and how can both extremes be avoided?

Hagar Shipley is an independent woman, but it is because she has to be or because she wants to be? Her independence began at a young age, since she had no mother in her childhood to set examples for her, nor a mother to go to for advice. Her Auntie Doll was her only possible female role model in her life, but Hagar did not have much appreciation or respect for her. It seemed as though she was moving in on her mother's territory. Without a mother figure in her developing years, Hagar had to learn things for herself when it was not appropriate to talk about something with her father; this caused her to make more mistakes along the way. She holds a strong resentment towards other women, especially her mother. Hagar believes her mother was weak for dying during childbirth, in reality it was a situation entirely out of anyone's control. Considering the fact that she was lacking a birth mother, her personality developed in a more rugged way, rougher around the edges then generally expected. It also reflects her resentment towards women in general, and causes her to avoid dependence on others.
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