Below you will find three outstanding thesis statements / paper topics that can be used as essay starters. All three incorporate at least one of the themes found in the text and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints about how to use PaperStarter.com in the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1 Tragedy and Hagar as a Tragic Figure
In many ways The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence is a tragedy, particularly because the main character, Hagar. No character analysis of her is complete without mentioning her pride, but in many ways her pride is a tragic flaw. By definition, a tragic character is one who afflicted by a tragic flaw and who suffers because of this. While Hagar could have had a very enjoyable life and not been so sad and lonely, especially towards the end of her time, she was unable to because of her pride which is her tragic flaw. For this essay, you might want to look up the definitions of tragic characters and look to other tragedies (both modern and ancient) for supporting your claims. Look at the way Hagar might have been pleased with her life and then examine the theme of tragedy in terms of how the flaw of pride kept her from this.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2 Symbols in The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
Many of the themes in The Stone Angel are emphasized by the use of symbols and these symbolic cues urge the reader to look past what is directly stated and see the deeper meanings behind what the author is trying to express. Throughout the novel some of the most important and recurring symbols are those of the stone angel itself (which stands as a symbol of pride and Hagar’s family) as well as water (which is a symbol for life….Hagar often says she needs water for things to grow) and flowers as well. All of these symbols work together to relate important ideas, particularly about Hagar. For this essay, spending one paragraph on each symbol you find and bring them all together in a conclusion that reflects that you’ve understood the importance of symbols and their deeper significance in The Stone Angel.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3 The Role of Dreams and Ambitions in The Stone Angel
It is difficult for the reader to take an objective view of the characters in this novel, particularly Hagar, because of the first-person nature of the story. Furthermore, it is also impossible not to dislike Hagar at times because of her detachment from the things that could bring her happiness. With that said, it is useful to examine why we might feel this and make a generalization about her character as a whole. In short, it is the dreams and ambitions of Hagar that have crippled her rather than circumstances beyond her control. Her life has been lived according a very slim set of ambitions that are both narrow minded as well as selfish. Examine the way Hagar makes and follows through with her dreams and ambitions and for each “dream" or ambition she has, use a new paragraph to explore it. You might also want to integrate some points from the first essay topic about how she fills the mold for a quintessential tragic character.
Tip: For a few excellent academic articles on The Stone Angel, please visit the literature archives at ArticleMyriad.com. Currently there are two freely available to the public, one on symbols and the othercomparing the text to Death of a Salesman
The statue to Hagar’s mother was built “in pride to mark her bones and proclaim his [her father’s] dynasty, as he fancied, forever and a day" (3).
Of Hagar’s pride when dealing with her father, “Later, in the train, I cried, thinking of him, but of course, he never knew that, and I’d be the last to tell him" (42).
On playing as her mother for the dying Hagar says… “I could not help but detest [the idea of putting on the shawl] however much a part of me wanted to sympathize. To play at being her—it was beyond me" (25).
“Lottie was light as an eggshell herself, and I felt surly toward her littleness and pale fine hair, for I was tall and sturdy and would have liked to be the opposite" (27).
“Lottie actually opened up the glass-topped lid and stroked the white velvet and white folds of satin and the small puckered white face" (12)
When her daughter calls Hagar “the egg woman" because Hagar winds up on Lottie’s front steps, Hagar says to John, “I think we both looked blindly at the lighted kitchen, like bewildered moths" (132).
Hagar to her son John, scolds John, saying, “If you wanted to make it completely impossible for me ever to hold my head up again in this town, you’ve certainly succeeded" (199).
Hagar to Lottie “I always marveled that you could bring yourself to do what you did" (213)
Hagar’s way of making peace with one of her sons: , “you’ve been good to me, always. A better son than John" (304)
“I was alone, never anything else, and never free, for I carried my chains within me, and they spread out from me and shackled all I touched" (292)
“every joy I might have held in my man or any child of mine or even the plain light of morning…all were forced to a standstill by some break of proper appearances…When did I ever speak the heart’s truth" (292)
All Quotes Refer to the 2002 Bantam Edition of The Stone Angel