'Form in Margaret Laurence's The stone Angel'
Form, which briefly defined is the manner in which a novel is structured for effect, is an important ingredient in the construction of any Iiterary work. It is central to the novel's aesthetic appeal. Yet many critics have tended to take it for granted preferring to study what the novel is about (content) in preference to how the story is told and how this contributes to its overall impact form. In keeping with the above tendency tile criticism of Margaret Laurence) s The Stone Angel ,has concentrated on its strong story line and l its remarkable character the 90-year-old Hagar Shipley. Hagar's struggle for independence, a process that spans' nearly a century, and her dramatic realisation that her greatest impediment to freedom has been herself, forms a compelling story that often seems to grab critic's attention to the exclusion of The Stone Angel's form. Scant attention has therefore been . paid to Laurence's masterful construction of the novel and particularly how its remarkable portrayal of character is a direct result of skillful application of irony, symbolism and plot. Form gives shape to the story in The Stone Angel, determining its now and commenting 011 it. For instance the use of irony acts not only as a commentary on Hagar, but on the Manawaka community and mankind in general. Concurrently, the use of flashback's gives the story an almost simultaneous forward and backward movement. Form therefore becomes not an imposition or an external embellishment but an indispensable aspect of the novel, crucial to its understanding. The thesis seeks to 'show the symbiotic relationship that Laurence ensures between from and content in The Stone Angel. We can indeed argue that it is the subtlety and therefore unobtrusiveness with which Laurence unities form and content that has led to the latter being inadequately treated. In this thesis I highlight form as critical to the appreciation of The Stone Angel and as carrying Laurence's vision and worldview. In the first chapter I carry out a survey of Laurence's other novels. In the process I seek to display her continued interest in form and how it informs her constantly widening horizons. In the second chapter, we engage in a theoretical examination of form. We briefly trace its historical development. We also define, describe and evaluate form and its role in the novel. This forms a preamble to our study of form in Tile Stone Angel. In the third and last chapter, we apply the critical assumptions we make in the previous chapter, to our textual analysis of The Stone Angel. In conclusion, we comment on how form informs Laurence's vision, ideological standpoint and worldview. in form. We do this through a brief examination of her other novels. In the second chapter we theoretically discuss form. We briefly trace the historical evolution of form and attitudes towards it particularly how various critics have regarded it (form) in relation to content. We focus on the Marxist conception of the role of form in literature. In the third chapter, we analyse form in The Stone Angel using the theoretical perspective acquired from the second chapter. We seek to show in this chapter, how the novel is structured to reveal Laurence's world view and consequently the role of form in giving meaning to the text. In conclusion we indicate our findings and evaluation thereof.