Margaret Laurence's novel, The Stone Angel is a compelling journey of flashbacks seen through the eyes of Hagar Shipley, a ninety year-old woman nearing the end of her life. In the novel, Margaret Laurence, uses the stone angel to effectively symbolize fictional characters.
The term symbolism in its broadest sense means the use of an object to stand for something other than itself. In The Stone Angel, Margaret Laurence uses the stone angel to sybmolize the Currie family values and pride and in particular, the pride and cold personality traits of Hagar Shipley. There are three primary areas where the stone angel is used to symbolize characters in the novel. They are: the Currie family pride as a symbol of egoism and materialism, Hagar's lack of compassion for her family and friends as symbolized by a heart of stone, and Hagar's blindness to the feelings and needs of the others as symbolized by the blindness of the angel.
The stone angel is symbolic of the Currie family pride and values. The stone angel memorial is purchased and brought from Italy by Jason Currie at great expense and placed at the grave site of his wife, in the Manawaka cemetery. The stone angel is the largest and most expensive memorial in the cemetery. Although the stone angel is intended to be a memorial for Mrs. Currie, it was not really suitable because Hagar describes her as being meek and a feeble ghost. The angel is not intended for Mrs. Currie, but in fact, represents the materialistic and egotistical values that characterizes Jason and later, Hagar. Jason purchases the stone angel in pride and not in grief over the death of this wife: "bought in pride to mark her bones and ...
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...from her point of view and is blind to the needs and aspirations of others. She can only see things from her side of the fence and cannot see how others view the world from the other side. She is a blind as the stone statue. Although the Currie?s family pride is symbolized repeatedly by the stone angel throughout the novel, it is Hagar who is best symbolized the stone angel. The angel aptly symbolizes the blindness, hardness, and lack of feelings that are characteristics Hagar displays during her life. In retrospect, Hagar is the stone angel.
Works Cited and Consulted
Blewett, D.. "The Unity of the Manawaka Cycle." The World of the Novel: A Student's Guide to Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel. Ed. Lillian Perigoe and Beverly Copping. Scarborough: Prentice Hall Inc., 1983.
Laurence, Margaret. The Stone Angel. Toronto: McClelland &Stewart Inc., 1988.
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