Fifth Business Women

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Ali Zaidi
Professor Meade
27th April, 2009

The Importance of Women Characters in the Novel Fifth Business The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies is told in the form of a letter written by Ramsay on his retirement from teaching, “a character essential to the action but not a principal” that was affected by or had an effect on the other characters of the play. The life of Dunstan Ramsay is the backdrop and the thread connecting countless subplots and themes, but as his very evident passion for hagiology sets him out to discover the difference between materialism and spirituality, the actual importance of women is brought about in the novel by his interactions since childhood onwards and we see how these women mould, scar and set him free. The role of women in society is analyzed in the story from the point of view of a male narrator. Dunstan Ramsay had a number of women pass throughout his life. Each of the women played an important role in his life. His mother caused him to become isolated and distant from women. Mary Dempster took away Dunstan’s childhood because of the guilt he felt for her simplicity, and she also was the only woman he truly loved. Leola caused Dunstan to experience jealousy and pity. Diana is also controlling and manipulative, like Dunstan’s mother, which is why he leaves her. Through Diana, the reader sees how much Dunstan’s mother has affected his life with women. Liesl made Dunstan realize that he felt no emotion, and she caused him to feel it again. She brought him out of the isolation his mother put him in. All of these women played an important role in Dunstan’s spiritual and emotional development. Dunstan's mother's influence in his life lies parallel to that of Calvinist Protestantism. Like the religion, Fiona Ramsay is restrictive and has a certain element of fire and brimstone about her, demonstrated when she chases Dunstan through the house intent on delivering righteous punishment. As Protestantism stands against...
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