“Fifth Business” a novel written bythe Canadian autor Robertson Davies. Published in 1970, the novel explores the life of the narrator who is Dunstan Ramsey who spends all his lifein a world of isolation in a way that secludes him from the rest of thesociety. As Dunny get’s older he realize that his decisions, actions interetsand experiences during his life are keeping him in a life of isolation .
The guiltyof Dunstan’s conscience and theirregular interaction with woman leave him in a world of isolation. Manycharacters in “Fifth Business” live lifes of isolation not just Dunstan Ramsey.In the novel “Fifth Business” isolation exist also it has an enormous roleduring the novel and take place in three aspects, physical, emotional and social. One might interpret thatisolation does not exist in “Fifth Business” and guilt exist and plays theprincipal role during the novel “Fifth Business”. Dunstan feels a lot of guilt during his life. He feels guilty for the prematurebirth of Paul Dempster throught his life but he most of all feels a lot ofguilty about his responsibility for Mary Dempster’s condition. Dunstan’sexperience with Mary Dempster leaves him with a feeling of guilt because hefeels responsible for her accident with the snowball and her “simplicity”.
“Asa child I had felt oppressively responsible for her, but I had thought all thatwas dissipated in the war. But the guilthad only been thrust away, or thrust down out of sight, for here it was again,in full strength, clamouring to be atoned, now that the opportunity offereditself” (p152) this quotation was say bydunstan in the novel “Fifth Business” by Robertson Davies, in this quotation Dunstanfeels guilty for the “simplicity” of Mary Dempster. After Mary Dempsterprematurely gives birth to Paul, Dunstan feels guilty because of his associationwith her accident. “I learned all the gynaecological and obstetrical details asthey were imparted piecemeal to my father; the difference was that he satcomfortably beside the living-room stove, opposite my mother, while I stoodbarefoot and in my nightshirt beside the stovepipe upstairs, guilt-ridden andsometimes nauseated as I heard things that were new and terrible to my ears” (p13)this quotation is say by Dunstan Ramsay in the novel. Dunstan feel guilty becausehe is related with Mary Dempster accident. However Dunstan’s infancy causes himto have constant feelings of isolation wich causes him to live a life of isolationin wich he tries to make amends with his past mistakes.
Physical Isolation is the first aspect in “Fifth Business” it is show in many charactersduring the novel .Mrs.Dempsters husband locks her up in the house away from theoutside world.”Began to think that he was as simple as she like many ostracizedpeople they became more marked in their adority”(p30)is say by Dunstan ramsay andit ilustrates how Mrs Dempsters wasrejected by those in Deptford for the morality system. As a child Dunstan was greatlyinfluenced by his mother who created a specific view of life for him.”How couldI reconcile this motherliness with the screeching fury who had pursued mearound the kitchen with a whip, flogging me until she was gorged with – what?Vengeance? What was it? Once, when I wasin my thirties and Reading Freud for thefirst time, I thought I knew. I am notso sure I know now.
But what I knew then was that nobody – not even my mother -was to be trusted in a strange world that showed very little of itself on thesurface” (p30)