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The Fifth Business': The Effects of Other Characters on The Protagonist

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Experiences refer to the nature of the events someone or something undergoes, and can either change a person for better or for worse. Throughout the novel, Fifth Business the protagonist, Dunstan Ramsay goes through many experiences that help make him the person he becomes by the end of the story. According to Jungian analyst Anthony Stevens, individuation is the “process, simple or complex as the case may be, by which every living organism becomes what it was destined to become from the beginning”. With the concept of individuation Robertson Davies is able to create characters such as – Mrs. Ramsay, Diana Marfleet, and Liesl Vitzliputzli to help mold, change, and fortify Dunstan into the person he is at the end of the story. By applying the Jungian theory of individuation and the ideas of character by Perrine, we are able to follow the development of Dunstan as he goes through life.

The first character to have a major influence in Dunstan’s development is his motherMrs. Ramsay. She helps to mold him into the character we come to know. Even though she seems to love her son, she can be characterized by what Perrine calls indirect characterization; where her personality is revealed through her actions, and dialogue. By using Perrine’s method of indirect characterization, we can see that she is a determined, and strict mother whose feelings towards her son change over time. Through her actions we see that she changes with the arrival of Paul Dempster. With the arrival of Paul we see the focus of her love change after the snowball incident. This is shown when Dunstan says, “I began to believe that i was more responsible for the birth of Paul Dempster than were his parents…. Part of that dreadful fate would undoubtedly be rejection by my mother”. By him saying this we see Mrs. Ramsay’s attention and affection being focused towards Paul instead of her own son. This treatment toward Dunstan contributes to the first phase of individuation-the shadow. Mrs. Ramsay’s treatment is responsible for Dunstan’s inability to connect with women, which is an unconscious part of his personality which his ego can not identify in itself.

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Diana Marfleet is the first woman Dunstan gets into a sexual relationship with, and with her being his first real love she ends up playing a very significant role in the development of Dunstan.We first meet Diana when she takes care of Dunstan when he is injured during the war. As their relationship begins to detour from a friendly one into a sexual one, we see how Diana starts the change in Dunstan. She does this by giving him a new name, “You’ll never get anywhere in the world named Dumbledum Ramsay”. This name change signifies Dunstan’s rebirth. Even though Diana helps him start a new chapter in his life, she can be characterized by what Perrine calls direct characterization, where her personality is revealed by what is said about her by other characters. By using Perinne’s method of direct characterization, we can she that is a loving, and an overbearing person who contributes to Dunstan’s growth. 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 a hurry to acquire another”. By him saying this we see Diana contributing to the second phase of individuation-the animus. Because of her acting like a mother than the sexual partner that he craves, she becomes responsible for the revealment of the normally dormant animus in Dunstan, which brings him one step closer to selfactualization.

The last character to have an effect on Dunstan’s development is Liesl Vitzliputzli. Liesl is the first person in the novel to actually help Dunstan find his true self, 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”. 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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The Fifth Business’: The Effects of Other Characters on The Protagonist. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-fifth-business-the-effects-of-other-characters-on-the-protagonist/
“The Fifth Business’: The Effects of Other Characters on The Protagonist.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-fifth-business-the-effects-of-other-characters-on-the-protagonist/
The Fifth Business’: The Effects of Other Characters on The Protagonist. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-fifth-business-the-effects-of-other-characters-on-the-protagonist/> [Accessed 1 Feb. 2023].
The Fifth Business’: The Effects of Other Characters on The Protagonist [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Oct 28 [cited 2023 Feb 1]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-fifth-business-the-effects-of-other-characters-on-the-protagonist/
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