In Margaret Lawrence's The Stone Angel, Hagar Shipley is a woman whose life begins with tragedy as her birth

the causes her mother’s death. Hagar consequently had to grow up in the absence of a female role model. These circumstances start an internal struggle where Hagar’s femininity, her true self, became clouded by Carl Jung's notion of the Electra complex. Jung speculated that in the absence of one's mother’s presence, a young girl latched onto her father developing a “penis envy” where she desires the strong masculine characteristics of her father. Hagar’s Electra complex and femininity became two opposing forcing that lead to a confused identity creating tragedy throughout her life.

In Hagar’s life her mother symbolized femininity, the death of such a symbol meant the death of her own femininity. The death of her mother also meant that there was weakness in femininity compared to the attractive masculine power that her father had. This is why Hagar tried to run from her femininity because acknowledging it would make her appear as though she was weak. The unfortunate thing was that she was feminine and perhaps not weak by a different standard, but by Hagar’s it was unacceptable and in her head there could be no explanation if this “weakness” were to appear in her life. For example, when her Lottie and the other children found some baby chicks that were in pain she said, “I could not bring myself to kill those creatures”(27-28). She wished that she could kill the chicks and put them out of their misery instead of being out shown by Lottie who took the lead and did the deed herself. Hagar says how she couldn’t do it, but she didn’t know why. Another instance that she had no explanation for, in which her “weakness” is

is the time she speaks of when she says. but once again for some unexplainable reason she could not reach out to help. Doris and everyone else in her life. I'm not a bit like her” (25). “I can't. Oh Matt. I can't. hallucinating brother that would not know the difference anyways. but I can't. Bowlby. Situations where Hagar couldn’t bring herself to help someone in need would carry out into Hagar’s adulthood. a British psychoanalyst. making them incapable of showing love for others in later years. Her brother Matt had asked her to act as their mother to comfort her other brother Dan before he died. So because Hagar’s mother couldn’t show her love and nurturing she can’t show others. Inabilities of this nature extend into many facets of Hagar’s life including her tragic relationships with her sons.shown. When Bram’s horse.” (27-28). says that the absence of a mother during the first months or years of a child’s life can result in that child withdrawing into themselves. died she saw that he was sad and she wanted to say something. Another relatable explanation can be seen in Jung’s theory that illustrates how sociality is a feminine characteristic that originates from the political . Her mother had died at her birth. an inability to care for someone could also be explained by John Bowlby’s theory. Apart from an unwillingness to commit gestures of weak femininity to explain this. Soldier. “I could not bring myself to comfort Dan. It is most likely that within a situation like this she has over time constructed a weak mother her mind and so she can’t comfort her brother because she won’t subject herself to a role of “weakness”. how is it that she could know she is not “a bit like her” and how in any way does this usurp her role of comforting her dying. She replied. I'm sorry.

This is what brought her to Bram. “You’ll not marry that fellow ever” (48). but Hagar wouldn’t listen. When looking through Freud’s theory of the Electra complex where a daughter is sexually attracted her father. A daughter will tend to hate their mother because she thinks that her mother blocks her from her father. it would seem that Hagar had trumped her father by marrying Bram. Her mother died however and appears weak because she couldn’t keep the power of her husband. however Hagar can have it all to herself. the daughter will learn to share with her mother and maintain a strong relationship at the same time. This creates jealousy and hatred within the daughter for her mother and usually a daughter would have to learn to share with her mother and co-operate. After completing the phallic stage. This resolved struggle would lend to the social nature of women. A father represents an attractive power of masculinity that a mother would usually block from the daughter. but it was well within the character of the masculine façade she . a man whom Hagar repeatedly described as a “large man”.nature of the relationship between mother and daughter. he said. Freud said that societal conventions prohibit a sexual relationship between father and daughter and so Hagar would have to find a mate somewhere else when she grew up. As Large and masculine as Bram was he was no good and Hagar’s father knew it. It was uncommon for a girl like Hagar to rebel like this in her time. in which the Electra Complex forms in. however in the case of Hagar it only further proves her inability to communicate feelings of love.

Bram’s personality however was something that Hagar ignored during her haughty rebellion. old. thick headed and stubborn. With the death of her mother she denied her femininity and withdrew into herself as a child making herself like stone. The complex that lay unresolved forced Hagar to keep making the same mistakes leading to her bitter death alone. With over exposure to her father she became over confident. Hagar could not love and could not listen. Never having to share that power along with denial of her own femininity led her to exclude others opinions throughout her life even those of her father whom she received those traits from. This is how she grew into the stubborn. is seems she was destined to have. uncaring woman that she was. By studying Hagar’s complex it becomes possible to trace the origins of these tragedies that echoed and mirrored through her life unresolved. unable to show feelings of love. Ambitions for her own goals in such a manner were traits taken from the masculine power of her father. . Hagar’s life began from the tragedy of her mother’s death. The character she developed led her to marry Bram who could physically take the spot of her father. which led her to the life. in this sense she was always alone.had.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful