Essay PreviewMore ↓
Robertson Davies’ colourful novel “Fifth Business” outlines and describes the development of a lost and emotionally void man, Dunstan Ramsay. This is a man who carries the weight of Paul Dempsters premature birth on his shoulders his entire life. It portrays his quest for self knowledge, happiness, and ultimately fulfilling his role as ‘Fifth Business.’ This would not have accomplished without Liesl, an extremely graceful and intelligent woman imprisoned inside a deformed and gargantuan body. Liesl plays a vital role in Dunstan’s development and psychological rebirth, as she helps him rediscover his body, his emotions, and himself.
Dunstan first literally loses a part of himself in the war, when he wakes up six months after falling into a coma to the realization that he has lost his leg. This event played a gigantic role in Dunstan’s loss of self, as it would anybody who loses a limb. He first experiences uneasiness about his injury when he and Diana become lovers, the woman who nursed him back to life after the war, as he compares his “scarred and maimed body with her unblemished beauty” (82). Dunstan has a few sexual encounters after Diana, but they all end with the women leaving quite frustrated and annoyed, as he uses his sense of humour in the bedroom to cover up his feelings of physical inadequacy. “I could not forget my brownish-red nubbin where one leg should have been, and a left side that looked like the crackling of a roast” (117). This feeling of shortcoming is possibly the reason why Dunstan does not give himself completely over to a woman to be loved, or maybe because he does not take women very seriously; not until he meets Liesl, that is. Dunstan initially falls in love with the beautiful Faustina, and is overcome with this boyish and unexplainable obsession for her, until he unexpectedly finds Faustina and Liesl entangled in a passionate and shocking embrace. It was this that began Dunstan’s character development, as he first begins to feel for what he has seen. Liesl confronts him that night, trying to seduce him, and after they fight, and then talk, they make love, as equals. This act reconnects Dunstan with his body, and Liesl becomes the first woman that he ever really experiences intimacy with, as a great cloud lifts from his spirit. “With such a gargoyle! And yet never have I known such deep delight or such an aftermath of healing tenderness!” (231).
How to Cite this Page
"Liesl - Fifth Business by Robertson Davies." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Oct 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Mythological Realism in Fifth Business Spellbinding like his creation Magnus Eisengrim, Robertson Davies is a wizard of the English language. Who says that Canadian literature is bland and unappealing. New York Times applauded Fifth Business – the first of the Deptford triptych – as "a marvelously enigmatic novel, elegantly written and driven by irresistible narrative force." How true this is. Dunstable Ramsay – later renamed Dunstan after St. Dunstan – may be a retired schoolteacher, but what an engaging narrator he is.... [tags: Fifth Business]
1016 words (2.9 pages)
- Fifth Business There are many different paths people can take throughout their lives. In the novel, Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, the main character, Dunstan Ramsey, takes the path of the Canadian hero. There are many different steps to be taken by the hero and Dunstan Ramsey follows his path by completing each step. Dunstan’s journey begins when he gets his call for adventure. The call for adventure lets the hero know that his or her life is about to change. Dunstan’s call for adventure comes when he leaves for Europe for the second time to search for the little Madonna.... [tags: essays papers]
923 words (2.6 pages)
- In many stories, the concept of a secondary character role is often overlooked and deemed irreverent. However, in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare and the novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, the secondary characters Horatio and Dunstan Ramsay respectively both play a crucial role in the fulfillment of “Fifth Business”. According to Davies, Fifth Business are "those roles which, being neither those of Hero nor Heroine, Confidante nor Villain, but which were nonetheless essential to bring about the Recognition or the denouement” (Davies, Preface).... [tags: fifth business, dunstan ramsay]
1342 words (3.8 pages)
- Fifth Business by Robertson Davies In Robertson Davies' novel Fifth Business, the author uses the events that occurred in Deptford as a Canadian Allusion to reveal character identity. Three characters in the novel from Deptford: Boy Staunton, Dunstan Ramsey and Paul Dempster, leave Deptford to embark on a new identity to rid of their horrid past. The three main characters of the novel, all of whom to some extent try to escape their small town background, change their identity to become people of consequence.... [tags: Fifth business robertson davies Essays]
847 words (2.4 pages)
- Have Faith in the Outsider The acts of categorization, labelling and prejudice is a common habit in a dynamic and closely linked community as it is similarly in towns, cities and countries across the globe. As the generations progress, the perspective involving those who are abnormal or outside of the typical community have changed constantly. Since the early 1500s, women have been accused and exiled in certain countries for being witches. During the 1500s through to the mid-1800s and eventually later in the years of the 1950s-1960s, African-Americans were treated as outsiders.... [tags: The Manticore, Robertson Davies, Life]
1624 words (4.6 pages)
- Guilt can only be suppressed for a limited time before it comes out in unwanted ways. In the novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, Boy Staunton -a successful businessman with a polished appearance but a tortured soul- took the ultimate plunge to his death. His decision was not merely his own, but was influenced by a team of hands that helped push him to his destiny. First Leola, who was his first love and his wife. Then Mary Dempster, a neighbor from his old town Deptford, whom he mistakenly made into a 'simple' woman.... [tags: Robertson Davies Fifth Business Essays]
1185 words (3.4 pages)
- Robertson Davies' Fifth Business In the novel 'Fifth Business', the author Robertson Davies is successfully able to relate both the themes of magic and religion throughout. He achieves this relationship between the themes primarily through the characters and their actions. Dunstan Ramsay, Paul Dempster, Mary Dempster and Liselotte Vitzliputzli all help to illustrate the close relationship between magic and religion. One of the characters that Davies uses to relate the theme of magic and religion is Dunstable Ramsay.... [tags: Robertson Davies Fifth Business Essays Papers]
597 words (1.7 pages)
- Events that occur in a person’s childhood develop the person that they become later in life. The person is attached to their past because they retain the thoughts and memories that change the person as a whole. The importance of one’s past results in the way one acts in the present. This concept is developed in the Fifth Business as the main character Dunstan Ramsey, Dunny, is reminded of his past wherever he goes. In the novel, Dunny is unable to forget his past and it becomes a large part of his present character.... [tags: Essay on Fifth Business]
900 words (2.6 pages)
- Fifth Business by Robertson Davies In the essay Fifth Business, each of the main character traits is developed more and more clearly throughout their lives. Childhood characteristics are evident in the characters of Dustan Ramsay, Percy Boyd Stauton and Paul Dempster. All paranoia, and memories of the town of Deptford are resurfaced in each of them after they all had left to start lives on their own. It was childhood that scared or marked them as people and the fact that parents often have influence on children so, there is no question that these characters were definitely influenced by the parents in Deptford.... [tags: Essays Papers Davies Fifth Business ]
638 words (1.8 pages)
- Religion, Myth, and Magic in Robertson Davies’s Fifth Business 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.... [tags: Fifth Business Essays]
4091 words (11.7 pages)
When Dunstan first meets Liesl, he is shocked and disgusted by her utter grotesque appearance and her extraordinarily large hands and feet. But the moment he hears the sound of her voice he realizes that there is something more to her. “Her voice was beautiful and her utterance was an educated speech of some foreign flavour” (208). She uses adulation, and draws confidence out of him, acknowledging that he is the author of A Hundred Saints for the Travellers, Forgotten Saints of the Tyrol, and Celtic Saints of Britain and Europe. From this he realizes that there is more than one kind of magic; she was a “woman of formidable intelligence and intuition” (217) cruelly and unfairly trapped inside an ugly body. Liesl opens up a new world for Dunstan, a world of spontaneity and discovery with which he was unfamiliar with, as his life up until then had been very much structured. She asks him to write the biography of Magnus Eisengrim, which proves to be another step in Dunstan’s character development. “In spite of her marred face her smile was so winning that I could not say no. This looked like an adventure, and, at fifty, adventures do not come every day” (214). As Liesl allows Dunstan to unload his emotional baggage and unlock his dark chest of secrets, he is able to connect some of the events of his life and heal from them. She helps him to realize that men who keep secrets pay a high price for it, as he is “grim-mouthed and buttoned-up and hard-eyed and cruel” (220). She helps him to understand that the reason he has made Mary Dempster his personal saint is because she has received the affection and warmth that he should have spread throughout fifty people. Liesl saves Dunstan from continuing his life as he has been living it the past fifty years, as a “moral monster” (221), so that he can live the rest of his life in a normal humanity.
Without Liesl, Dunstan would not have emerged into his final character, and he would not have known the role that he plays in life’s drama, which is a huge part of his development. After him and Liesl fight, and she comes back to his room, the conversation they have is life altering for Dunstan. She helps him realize that he is as human as anyone else, and that he cannot take responsibility for other people’s troubles, as he did with the premature birth of Paul Dempster. Liesl poses a question to Dunstan that therefore completes her role in the novel, because as she brings forth these truths about his life, she brings him to the last stage in the development of his character:
“Who are you? Where do you fit into poetry and myth? You know who I think you are, Ramsay? I think you are Fifth Business...You must have Fifth Business because he is the one who knows the secret of the hero’s birth, or comes to the assistance of the heroine when she thinks all is lost, or keeps the hermitess in her cell, or may even be the cause of somebody’s death that is part of the plot” (231).
Once Dunstan is able to connect the pieces of his past and spiritually heal, life seems to come a lot easier to him. He completes the biography of Magnus Eisengrim, which turns out to be a huge success, and when he is parting with Eisengrim’s entourage, Faustina gives him a kiss, in exchange for an expensive and handsome necklace, which is a large step from where he was before. He also gives Eisengrim a set of expensive studs, in exchange for a monthly sum in order to take care of Mrs. Dempster. To Liesl, however, he gives nothing: “By this time she and [Dunstan] were strong friends and took from each other something that could find no requital in presents” (234).
Davies, Robertson. Fifth Business. Toronto: Penguin Books, 1977.