“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside,
Part Three, Chapter Two
In the chapter Dunstan gets a teaching position at Colborne Collage. He finds himself talking about his days teaching and old girlfriends. The idea of a new love seems like a viable option to him.
There is no real setting to this chapter. The atmosphere is a constant blur as it changes from one to another so quickly.
There is one human emotion that can paralyse us, lead us to lie both to ourselves and others, to take action that we don't like, and to cripple any rational thought processes. It is self perpetuating if allowed to get out of control. Its side effects are either anger, aggressiveness or fear and reclusiveness. Its symptoms are irrational behaviour, lying, anguish, lack of self-esteem, and in extreme cases, thoughts of suicide. It is guilt. In The Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies, guilt is a reoccurring theme throughout the novel and is a major force in one’s life. Davies demonstrates this by having one character feeling guilt while another who does not.
Guilt is the inevitable consequence that comes along after committing a crime and is a feeling that can paralyze and tear one’s soul away. However, it is evident that an individual’s feelings of guilt are linked to what they believe is right or wrong. In Robertson Davies Fifth Business, guilt is a principal theme in the novel and its effects have a major toll on the lives and mental state of many characters. Throughout the novel, it is apparent that the values and morals instilled within childhood shape an individual’s personality, as exhibited by the different ways the characters within the novel respond when faced with feelings of guilt. The literary elements Davies utilizes in the passage, from pages fifteen to sixteen, introduce the theme of guilt and display the contrast in how
Interwoven with light and shadows, Robertson Davies’s Fifth Business is penetrated with fantastical elements that rub uneasily against feelings of guilt. A snowball thrown by young "Boy" Staunton misses Dunstan and hits Mary Dempster, causing the premature birth of Paul and the insanity of Mary. Guilt ensues and threatens to envelop Dunstable, Dunny, and Dunstan. One is his name by birth; the other a pet name; and the third, his true name upon being born again. With so many identities, Dunstan struggles to understand his role as fifth business and to learn to untie himself from his burden of guilt. Conventional religion may confine Dunstan Ramsay’s spiritual growth, but it lays a firm foundation for him to mature. Myth finds a place in the heart of Dunstan and teaches him to grow. Magic is the escape of yore that Dunstan seeks and successfully rediscovers. Religion, myth, and magic are intertwined in Dunstan Ramsay’s life, crucial for the completion of Ramsay as a person through the wonder they inspire.
While Dunny was away at war, Boy was still finishing school and in the process of stealing Dunny's girl while he was away. Boy and Dunstan had been competing for Leola all their life up until when Dunny left. This loss for Dunstan could have been avoided if in fact he had not accepted responsibility for the snowball incident he wouldn't have had to leave and therefore could have kept Leola.
Thwarted love. Ambition. Guilt. Sexuality. Fifth Business is rife with these life lessons. However, the most dominant themes in the novel are ambition and motivation. It is well known that excessive ambition and motivation can destroy someone, but, used correctly, can skyrocket someone to happiness, as in the case of Dunstan Ramsey, Percy Staunton, and Paul Dempster. These two qualities not only give these characters the will to keep on living, but also enable them to rise above the masses during the Great Depression. Right in the beginning of the novel, Dunstan displays his superior motivation and ambition through his learning of juvenile magic.
Guilt is defined as a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime or wrong committed. Guilt is a major theme in the novel Fifth Business. Dunny has been raised in a strict Presbyterian household which has encouraged him to feel guilt about many minor things. Even though Paul was not born at the time of the snowball incident, Paul Dempster still feels guilty towards his mothers simple mindedness. Percy Boyd Stautons repressed guilt does considerable damage and ultimately recoils on himself.
A foil to Dunstable, Percy signifies himself as the epitome of an entitled, spoiled little boy. Unsurprisingly, he transitions into an entitled, spoiled man. From a young age, Staunton knows how to manipulate others to in order get what he wants. He is born into a place of advantage, hailing from the town's richest family. Through bullying, and the humiliation of others, Percy buys his way to into societal upperclass. However, distinguishing an adept talent for making money, he remains emotionally stunted. It can be observed that one's childhood experiences are key to the stability of their soul. One mishap in childhood can create a devastating blow to one's true happiness in later life. This was exactly the case in Boy Staunton's life. Despite being dealt a seemingly affluent foundation, it only took one blow - one snowball, to knock Staunton off track. Although the characters separate childhood’s were illustrated quite distinctly, Percy and Dunstable shared one assimilated likeness. Both grew up feeling guilt for Mrs. Dempster. Though he recreates himself as Boy Staunton, Percy always remains the same person who threw the careless snowball at Mrs. Dempster. This particular incident acted as an onset for Boy's growing shadow, and contributed to the eventual demise of his soul. It should be mentioned, the irony of a person who had such a significant influence on Boy
While Dunstan Ramsay had never been too interested in competing with Percy Boyd Staunton, Percy from a young age saw Dunny as a rival. When Percy’s brand new expensive sled isn’t as fast as Dunny’s, Percy gets angry and throws a snowball at Dunny, which in turn begins the setting for the novel. The two continue to compete throughout the novel, for things such as Leola’s love, military recognition, and more.