Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel
What is the significance behind the title The Stone Angel from one’s personal perspective? Is there something or someone that can be referred to as such? How does the title of this novel justify its content, character and meaning? This paper aims to explore and analyze the significance of this book’s title. Anyone who has not read Margaret Laurence’s book yet entitled The Stone Angel will probably find the title intriguing and at some point, misleading. The title itself can also trigger one’s curiosity. Ideally, the term “angel” refers to gentleness, soft-heartedness, goodness, innocence and purity.
An angel is known as a heavenly creature that does beautiful wonders. In the world we live in, the people who are referred to as “angels” are the ones who touch other’s lives in a very special way and leave fond memories that are worth cherishing. Angels exist in many forms – a friend who helps in times of need, a caring parent, a stranger who helps and many others. The novel The Stone Angel does not speak of this concept of an angel. The title itself is a combination of two words that do not necessarily complement each other – stone and angel.These words refer to the main character of the novel, Hagar Currie Shipley, a difficult and less-admirable woman who is facing the final days of her life.
Hagar is defined in the story as self-reliant, stubborn, proud and querulous. She does not reveal her true feelings. She can best be described as a hard and strong woman – just like a stone. Looking back at how she lived her life, she was isolated by her uncompromising pride caused by the stern virtues she inherited from her father and other ancestors.Everything in her life had caused her to become as strong, hard and unyielding like a stone. Just like the novel’s title, Hagar can be described as an unusual and unique character.
She is a disturbing character in the story that is very difficult to like. There is also nothing admirable or funny about her. Hagar is unyielding as a stone which befits her description in the novel. The title, The Stone Angel, can serve its significance through Hagar’s character because readers will attempt to find a hint of goodness or gentleness in her.Like a stone, she is cold-hearted and at times, too strong that she does not want to rely on anybody; and just like an angel, she is unique and very extraordinary.
Her pride and rude disposition had taken over her because there are some things that are lacking in her life – love and true joy. The absence of these essential elements in Hagar’s life caused her to live her life filled with pride and in isolation. Sadly, she only realized the emptiness and the things that are lacking in her life in her deathbed. The realization that Hagar had in her deathbed is probably the only aspect of the novel that showed a depth of genuine emotion.
Even though she lived her life dwelling on pride and independence, there came a point in time – right in her deathbed – when she looked back and doubted if she ever felt love and true joy. The nearness of death allowed her to see what she missed in her life. There are certain things in life that can “soften” the hardest of hearts. In the same way, there are also some things that can turn the softest heart into a stone.
These can be attributed to the external factors that people have to deal with in life like families, environment, other people and various events among many others.All these things can make or break a person. Oftentimes, they create such a huge impact that then transforms a person into something that is either good or bad. In Hagar’s case, the stern virtues she inherited from her father and other ancestors turned her into a proud and rebellious woman.
She married a man whom she knew her father would disapprove and gave birth to two children whom she never learned to truly love, care and appreciate. Her pride alienates her from the other people. She does not seek help from anybody and she does not extend help to anyone either.Like a stone, she is a tough woman who does not give in to others. Hardness of heart and character is manifested in the entire novel through Hagar which provides a great deal of significance to its title The Stone Angel.
Apparently, what Hagar missed in her life are love and joy. She carried her tough character and hard-as-stone heart throughout her life and all the way to her deathbed only to realize what she had missed. This aspect of the story significantly justifies its title. Hagar’s character symbolizes a stone angel – something that never gives in and does not yield.Hagar is a “creature” whose existence can be described as empty, cold, hard and meaningless.
There is a major difference between existing and living. Existing refers merely to physical presence. Living refers to the act of adding some meaning to life and touching other people’s lives. A person who merely exists does not interact with others, lives in isolation and is self-confined. However, a person who lives does recognize strengths and weaknesses; has a need for others and is willing to love and to find happiness. Existing does not refer to “living”.
A stone angel merely exists and misses out on the best things about life. It lacks warmth, true essence and vibrancy. It just stands there without knowing its purpose and meaning. Analyzing the novel itself, its main theme which is pride cannot be missed by the readers. The joyless existence of Hagar, along with her pride, unrelenting nature and sharp-tongue justifies her as the stone angel.
There are also a lot of instances in the novel that depicts hardness of character, harshness of words and roughness of action. Thus the title The Stone Angel says it all about the main character and her story.Hagar’s father is likewise a picture of a man who is hard on his daughter and awfully unforgiving. He died without seeing his daughter, Hagar, and his grandsons (Hagar’s children). This could probably be the main reason for Hagar’s attitude and behaviour. She knows nothing about love, joy and affection because she never felt it from her own family.
The absence of these “feelings” from her life had turned her heart into stone – hard and cold. In my own personal opinion, the title The Stone Angel already says it all about the novel.The main character, Hagar, does not reveal a soft side. The more I try to analyze her character, the more that I can associate it with a stone. She is the kind of character that is hard to like and appreciate.
She is also an old and lonely woman who attempts to have a last look at how she lived her life. In her deathbed, as she doubts if she ever really felt love and true joy, a hint of gentleness became apparent. However, the lack of resolution in her story did not actually justify her as a true angel. In fact, she is far from being one.
Hagar is a stone angel – something that is vague, cold and misleading. In the end, one cannot really determine if her realization about her life made her look good or bad. The significance of the title, The Stone Angel, is that it is a story in itself. It provides a good glimpse of what the readers can expect from the book. The theme of the novel, which is pride, is reflected in the title itself because stone is associated with hardness and coldness.
At the same time, it triggers one’s curiosity as to what stone angel specifically implies or whether it is a character or just a concept.