The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing Essay

The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing Essay

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The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

The character of Ben Lovatt in Doris Lessing's "The Fifth Child" is
one that is very powerful, and also extremely interesting. He is
violent, and unbelievably strong, yet he would not be able to fend for
himself in the "big, bad World". Doris Lessing's use of a very
effective mixture of characterisation, symbolism and language use
result in a very intriguing and fascinating novel.

At the start of the novel, the reader is lulled into a sense of
happiness and perfection in the lives of Harriet and David. The
description of the house that they buy gives the impression that they
have lots of positive plans for the future. When the house is being
described, there is a short but very effective sentence, at the end of
the paragraph:

"Full of space for children, in fact"

This does not say that they plan to have children, but it simply
suggests.

The feeling of happiness and eternal bliss seems to continually get
stronger and stronger. A major sign of this happiness is the regular
family get-togethers held at the Lovatt's house. These are attended by
a large number of people, and all of them have a great time. The
rapture continues throughout the lives of the family, and is amplified
by 4 "little bundles of joy" becoming new additions to the family.

From the descriptions of when the whole family is over, the scene can
easily be pictured, with a large family around the large table in the
house, all gathered together having a great time. Doris Lessing uses
good language to create this image of happiness.

However, when Harriet becomes pregnant for the fifth time, it is
apparent, from the sta...


... middle of paper ...


...s a real
"monster" and gets involved in robberies and riots, and becomes a real
"menace to society".

At the end of the novel, Harriet ponders this strange offspring of the
otherwise idyllic middle-class family. Who, or what, was Ben? Beast,
goblin, throwback, alien, or a "normal healthy fine baby"? Everyone
had different opinions on what Ben was. No-one could quite give
Harriet the answer she was looking for; no matter how hard she
searched. Doris Lessing deals with these questions without ever quite
managing to answer them. She explores the conditions of human
acceptance, and what is deemed "normal", and how things that do not
match this are treated. Doris Lessing is insistent throughout the
novel that Ben is something other than human, by using very negative
language and showing very negative viewpoints on Ben.

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