The Study of Guild in Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

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Guilt can take on many forms. It is a powerful force to overcome, and a majority of people collapse because of it. In “Fifth Business”, by Robertson Davies, guilt is the intended study that is portrayed throughout the novel and impacts a number of lives. Davies demonstrates this by having one character feeling guilt and tries to confront it, a second character ignoring it and a third who tries to run away from it. Davies introduces the reader with Dunstan Ramsay and Percy Boyd Staunton who are parallels in competition with each other. Percy throws a snowball containing a small rock at Ramsay. Who jumps aside, causing it to miss him and strike Mary Dempster, which then we are met with the premature birth of Paul Dempster. In this novel the study of guilt is shown through experiences of the characters as Dunny felt guilty for the premature birth of Paul, Boy appearing not as to be affected by the incident but later on feels guilt for the death of Leola, and Paul Dempster feeling guilt for his mother, Mary, which later made him run away from home. Guilt essentially is what drives the characters of Fifth Business and in the end determines the final conclusion. Lastly, although Boy and Dunstan are parallels of each other Davies uses their awkward relationship to create a major element in Fifth Business which is what makes it an interesting story. Thus, the story revolves around the idea of competition and guilt.
The guilt felt by Dunstan adjusted the way he survives his perfect dedication for Mary Dempster. Dunstan's guilt is the aftereffect of his religious childhood. This guilt is brought about by Percy Boyd Staunton when he throws the snowball that hits Mrs. Dempster, bringing about her insanity and Paul's premature birth. Dunstan ...

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... she dies mad, who will not say that she is better dead? (148).
Paul does feel guild of abandoning his mother but handles it by running away, opposed to Dunny who is trying to pay off his guilt or not by forgetting it even happened like Boy. To accomplish this, he lives as a new person and takes on the persona of this great and mysterious magician.
From those three points such as Dunstan changing his life to devote to Mary Dempster, Boy’s situation with Leola, and Paul’s persona change we see how guilt affects these characters in totally different ways. Even though Boy was the one who threw the snowball, Dunstan was the one to feel guilt about it, yet Boy wipes out this guilt. Even though Paul Dempster felt guilty for his mother he decided to deal with it by being a whole other person to handle it. Therefore, guilt is the intended study throughout the entire novel.

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