Essay about Second Character Role in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Essay about Second Character Role in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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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). Fifth Business represents a person who is paradoxically a “supporting character”, but has the largest impact in the development of the main character(s) and the plot. With that being said, both Horatio and Dunstan Ramsay fulfill the role of Fifth Business in their respective texts. In Hamlet, Horatio satisfies the role by being able to provide insight to Hamlet, by being an anchor of reason in the plot, and by being the ideal image of a friend to Hamlet. Similarly, in Fifth Business, Dunstan Ramsay fulfills the role by knowing the secret birth of Paul Dempster, by being a witness to Boy Staunton’s rises and falls, and by being the odd man out with no partner. Although the development of the plot between Hamlet and Fifth Business are different, both Horatio and Dunstan Ramsay similarly succeed in satisfying the role of Davies’ definition of Fifth Business.
Horatio is arguably the most important secondary character in Hamlet, and his role as Fifth Business clearly demonstrates his significance throughout the play. In order to understand Horatio’s role as Fifth Business, one must first explore his character and function in the play. Horatio is considered by man...


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...iesl, Dunstan satisfies the role by knowing the secret birth of Paul Dempster, by witnessing Boy Staunton’s rises and falls, and by being the “odd one out” through achieving a bachelor status. Similarly, both characters were designed to be neither the protagonist nor the antagonist. Instead, Horatio and Dunstan Ramsay both play the secondary character role; the plot is not directly focused on them, but rather on the main characters that they interact with and influence. However, their fulfillment of Fifth Business has proven to be more than just a significant secondary role; they provide the necessary foundations for the development of both the main characters and the plot.


Sources
1. Davies, Robertson. Fifth Business. Toronto: Penguin, 1977. Print.
2. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Betty Bealey. Mississauga, Ont.: Canadian School Book Exchange, 1996. Print.

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