The Progression of Personal Development in Fifth Business
Experiences refer to the nature of events that someone goes through in their life, which can either have a positive or negative effect. Throughout the novel Fifth Business, the protagonist, Dunstan Ramsay goes through many experiences which help make him be the person he is by the end of the story. According to Jungian analyst Anthony Stevens individualism is the process “by which every living organism becomes what it is destined to become from the beginning [self-actualization]” (Stevens, Private Myths, 139). With this concept, Robertson Davies is able to create characters such as-Mrs. Ramsay, Diana Marfleet, and Liesl Vitzliputzli to help mold, change, and fortify Dunstan as the character he is at the end of the novel. By applying the Jungian concept and the ideas of Perrine concerning characters, we are able to follow Dustan through his journey to self-actualization.
The first character to help Dunstan on his journey to self-actualization is his mother-Mrs. Ramsay. His mother is the first character to act motherly towards him, hence molding him into his true self with love. Even though she seems to love her son we can see how this changes by using what Perrine calls indirect characterization; where her personality is revealed through her actions and dialogue. By using the method of indirect characterization, we can see that she is a determined and strict mother, who has good intentions for her son but ends up causing him harm. Through her actions we see that she is no longer the loving mother she seems to be at the beginning of the story. This all changes because of the snowball incident, which results in the birth of Paul Dempster. With the birth of Paul we see Mrs. Ramsay’s love shift from her son to the newborn. This is shown when Dunstan says, “I began to believe that I was more responsible for the birth of Paul Dempter than were his parents….Part of that dreadful fate would undoubtedly be rejection by my mother” (Davies, 17). By him saying this we see Mrs. Ramsay’s affection and attention being focused towards Paul, and her being hard on Dunstan. Her treatment towards her son is the first phase of his individuation process to self-actualization. The shadow. Her treatment is responsible for Dunstan’s inability to connect with women which is the unconscious part of his personality.
Diana Marfleet is the first woman that Dunstan gets into a sexual relationship with, and with her being his first realistic love she plays an important role in his journey to self-actualization. We meet Diana when she takes care of Dunstan after he sustains an injury from the war. As their relationship grows we see it detour from a friendly one to a sexual one, we see how Diana starts the change in Dunstan. She does this by renaming him, “You’ll never get anywhere in the world named Dumbledum Ramsay” (Davies, 92). This name change represents the rebirth of Dunstan and his new views on life. By using what Perrine calls direct characterization, where a character’s personality is revealed by what is said about them, we can see that Diana is a loving, and an overbearing person who contributes to the individuation process of Dunstan. By what is said about her we can see her shift from a lover to a motherly figure in the eyes of Dunstan, “She was too much of a mother to me and as I had one mother, and lost her, I was not in a hurry to acquire another” (Davies, 88). By him saying this we see Diana contributing to the second phase of individuation-the animus. Because of her acting like a mother instead of the lover he craves, she becomes responsible for the revilement of the normally subdued animus in Dunstan, which brings him one step closer to self-actualization.
The last character to have an effect on Dunstan’s journey to self- actualization is Liesl Vitzliputzli. Liesl is the first person in the novel to actually see Dunstan for who he is, which in turn fortifies him as a person. Even though Lisel seems like an unfriendly and ugly character she can also be characterized by what Perrine calls indirect characterization, where her personality can be evident by her actions. By using this method of characterization, we can see that she the only person who cares about Dunstan’s well-being. Liesl first appears in part five of the novel when Dunstan travels to Mexico City and watches a magic show. As their relationship evolves, we see how Lisel becomes Dunstan’s confidant, which begins with her trying to have sex with him. By her trying to seduce Dunstan, it opens the door for her to give him counsel and to help Dunstan realize that he never leads a full life. This is the last phase of Dunstan’s individuation process-the self. “Who are you? Where do you fit into poetry and myth? Do you know who I think you are, Ramsay? I think you are Fifth Business” (Davies, 213). With the light shed over Dunstan by Liesl, he is finally able to fulfill his role as fifth business.
Throughout Robertson Davies Fifth Business, the protagonist Dunstan Ramsay goes through many experiences which help make him the person he is at the end of the novel. By using the jungian concept of individuation Davies is able to create different characters like-Mrs. Ramsay, Diana Marfleet, and Liesl Vitzliputzli who end up intentionally or unintentionally molding, changing, and fortifying Dunstan.
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