What is the theme in The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, and what is the author's overall message to the audience?

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The primary theme of Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel is the dangers of pride. Hagar Shipley's sense of superiority has gradually suppressed her real feelings. Hagar—the protagonist—can neither compromise with others nor respect others' views. Throughout the novel, the protagonist's life unfolds as a long series of decisions based on her own pride. However, toward the end of the novel, Hagar realizes this vice was only taking a heavy toll on her life: "Pride was my wilderness, and the demon that led me there was fear."

As a young woman, Hagar covers up her reactions and feelings toward people and situations. In a particular scene, she is whipped by her father but cannot shed tears in his presence, as that would be showing weakness. As a result, her father admits the girl has "backbone."

The theme of pride is also portrayed in the book when Hagar contemplates hugging her son—Marvin—who is leaving for a military mission: "I wanted all at once to hold him tightly, plead with him, against all reason and reality, not to go." Soon, Hagar's arrogance leads her to her reconsider such thoughts: "But I did not want to embarrass both of us, or have him think I'd taken leave of my senses."

Furthermore, Hagar is too benumbed to enjoy her marriage. She is even ashamed of her sexual feelings and thinks it's better to conceal such sensations from her husband. Hagar's own words justify her sense of pride: "I prided myself on keeping my pride intact, like some maidenhead."

The writer's message—the dangers of pride—is further emphasized in the scene where Hagar spends her last days in a hospital, attempting to overcome her stubbornness. As Mr. Troy sings a hymn to praise God, Hagar can no longer hide her emotions. At that moment, she realizes that pride has been preventing her from experiencing true love and happiness.

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