Fifth Business - Guilt

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Fifth Business: The consequences of guilt
All actions have consequences. Sometimes one does not have to participate in the action, but only be related, and the crime committed can have serious consequences for everyone. The consequence, or lack of consequence, is determined by one’s upbringing. This is clearly the case present in Robertston Davies’ Fifth Business. Although Boy committed the crime, Dunstan feels a profound sense of guilt about the snowball incident. On the other hand, Boy obliterates his guilt. Guilt and lack of guilt can clearly be seen through character’s lives, relationships and philosophies. The guilt felt by Dunstan altered the way he lives through his complete devotion for Mary Dempster. Dunstan’s guilt is the result of his religious upbringing. This guilt is caused by Percy Boyd Staunton when he throws the snowball that hits Mrs Dempster, resulting in her madness and Paul’s premature birth. Dunstan takes it upon himself to be the bearer of the guilt and feels responsible for the Dempster’s misery. Because of this burden of guilt, he commits his life to Mary Dempster. Dunstan handles the Dempster’s chores and cares for Mary and her son, Paul. By understanding Mrs Dempster, it no longer becames a moral obligation to care for her but a deep sense of commitment that he placed on himself through his meetings with Mrs Dempster. Dunstan’s escape out of Deptford through the army, may have allowed him to temporarily leave his guilt behind, but Dunstan’s guilt still remains. He sees the face of Mary Dempster during his time of pain in war, through the statue of the Immaculate Conception, showing the guilt that he still holds onto dearly. After returning to Deptford, Dunstan commits himself to the care of Mrs Dempster again, “I visited Mrs. Dempster forty Saturdays every year and at Easter, Christmas and on her birthday in addition,” (Davies 182). Evidently, his guilt still lingers. Dunstan fulfills his commitment by caring for Mrs Dempster until her...
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