The story of The Stone Angel reveals that while the aging of life may slow some down, others such as Hagar strive and make bold steps towards freedom and independence. Hagar suffered a life governed under the control of others, particularly her father and husband. As a result of this she became an individual of great independence, a characteristic that attributed to her often vein actions. With so many struggles in her life Hagar became inept of exultation, and eventually embroidered within her prideful tendencies. It was because of Hagar’s arrogance towards others that lead to her isolation. The Stone Angel is a tragic piece of literature because it entices the reader to take a glimpse through Hagar’s mind – engraving her stride for freedom at heart, as well as experiencing the repression of failing to attain it. With circumstances constantly preventing Hagar from reaching freedom, we pity her.
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Differing from Hagar’s father, Brampton’s brazen comportment towards Hagar only obstructed her status of uncompromising pride. For example, it was due to Brampton’s impatient and rude interruption during the new minister’s first sermon that caused Hagar to stop attending church and eventually denounce religion: “I preferred possible damnation in some comfortably distant future, to any ordeal then of peeking or peering eyes” (90). When Hagar refers to god as an omniscient being by saying, “Can God be One and watching?” (93) she shows us the implications in her denouncement of god. It is religiously stimulating in the sense that Hagar presents a character that condemns god whilst fearing the opinion of others. But Hagar’s distress exceeds that of her offenses. By deciding against the fundamentals of religion Hagar demonstrates one of societies most tragic flaws, the incapacity to adhere directly with others’ opinions. However Brampton’s outburst during the sermon affects Hagar in a non-direct manner as well. Following Brampton’s comment, “Won’t the saintly bastard ever shut his trap” (89) Hagar is met with her father’s significant disapproval which he demonstrates in a shrug that implies he wants “nothing to do” (89) with either her or Brampton. This proves that it is not only Hagar’s faith that is disrupted by Brampton, but the way others perceive her is affected as well. Still the incident at the church is only one of Brampton’s downfalls. It is ultimately Brampton’s vulgar mannerism that spoils the marriage, causing Hagar to leave Brampton with her son John: “We’ll find a place of our own” (141). Once again, this is another example of Hagar reassessing her environment in order to seek independence.
During the course of the book many of Hagar’s relationships present parallels. Because of her father’s demeaning attitude towards her she develops a striving for independence. As a result she marries Brampton regrettably in rebellion, but just like her father she abandons him as well. Ironically, Hagar eventually becomes what she has resented the most in her life, an authoritative figure. This can be seen in Hagar’s opposition to John’s relationship with Lottie Drieser’s daughter: “John-You’ll not marry her?” (204). Just as Hagar’s father disapproved of the marriage between her and Brampton; she disapproves of her son’s marriage with Arlene Dreiser due to the difference in social class. It is due to Hagar’s overwhelming sense of desire that causes her to overlook her pride and how her decisions will affect others. Hagar represents not only a victim of tragedy, but somebody who also initiates it themselves. Thus, this enables Hagar to further endure suffering once she has realized the consequences of her actions: “Every good joy I might have had, in my man or any child of mine or even the plain light of morning, of walking the earth, all were forced to a standstill by some brake of proper appearances-oh, proper to whom? When did I ever speak the hearts truth?” (292).
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