The Ideas of Carl Jung and Robertson Davies's Book

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Many authors of award-winning novels usually seek inspiration from other sources to add to the greatness of their story. Robertson Davies, the author of the first installment of The Deptford Trilogy-Fifth Business is one of these authors. He incorporates many unique ideas which help the book progress nicely. Davies’ interest in psychology has heavily influenced a lot of the themes, and actions in the novel. By combining the characters in the book and the ideas of Carl Jung, Davies was able to create, arguably his best piece of literature. Many of the characters in the novel are based around the concepts of Jung. Among them, the protagonist, Dunstable Ramsay (renamed Dunstan Ramsay), has many of these ideas applied to him, particularly individuation and anima/animus. Through these Jungian concepts, Davies creates a protagonist who throughout the novel finds a way to evolve into the person he wants to be.

According to Jung individuation is the process of transforming one’s psyche by bringing the personal and collective unconscious into conscious. It is also the process that makes a human an individual. Throughout the novel we see Dunstan Ramsay’s individuation develop as he grows older and meets other people. The first stage of his individuation is when he is in his first relationship with a woman, named Diana Marfleet. As their relationship continues to progress, Dunstan rejects her because she is becoming too much like his mother rather than the partner he wants. 

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Later in the novel, the meeting of the attractive Faustina fills the sexual void in Dunstan. As he lusts after Faustina, he builds a friendship with Liesl-the character with the biggest impact in his development. Liesl is the only person in the novel who truly understands Dunstan, and she gives him the opportunity to rediscover himself. Dunstan’s life begins with him having less weaknesses than others, and the weaknesses that he did possess were very limiting. He significantly reduces these throughout his life, for his and others benefits. This means that he made permanent and real progress to finding who he truly is.

Anima and animus is another one of Jung’s psychological theories that is used in Fifth Business. Jung describes both the anima and the animus as a part of the collective unconscious. Jung suggests that in the unconscious of males you can find the expressions of feminine inner personalities, this is the anima. Similarly, you can find expressions of masculine inner personalities in females, this being animus. Both transcending the personal psyche. Normally one is more dominant than the other, but a person can have both very strong anima and animus characteristics. 

In Fifth Business we see that Dunstan’s anima is present from the beginning of the novel. The guilt of the snowball hitting Mrs. Dempster stays with Dunstan for his whole life. This event causes him to adopt the mother archetype as he continues to take care of Mary until she dies. His animus is also evident in his character. It is dominant when he enlists in the army, and when he decides to rush the German machine gun nest all by himself. From the codominance of both his anima and animus, Dunstan is able to find out what he wants from life.

By using Jung’s psychology pertaining to Dunstan Ramsay, Davies is able to create a character who becomes who he strives to be. By meeting people like Mary, Diana, Faustina, and Liesl, it helps him in finally reaching his true self. Also, by Dunstan’s equally dominant anima and animus, he is able to rid himself of his guilt and finally start evolving into a better man.   

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