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“Wherever you find a great man, you will find a great mother or a great wife standing behind him.” (Dorothy L. Sayers). Since the beginning of time, people have been structured and molded by maternal influences and female insight. Generally, it is assumed that a person is a product of their environment, however, Robertson Davies in “Fifth Business,” deliberately uses female roles to display the impact that women have on the life of a man. Davies chronologically traces the psychological journey of Dunstan Ramsay as he matures through the guidance and influence of the significant female figures in his life. In the novel Fifth Business, women play a vital role in Dunstan’s character development, as they shape and influence him in various ways, both positive and negative. Davies clearly portrays, through the strong female roles in the novel, the impact that women have on the psychological growth of a man. The importance of women is an underlined theme throughout the entire novel, as we see how women sculpt, damage or liberate Dunstan in one way or another. The role of women in society is analyzed in the story from the point of view of a male narrator. Dunstan Ramsay has a number of women pass throughout his life, each greatly affecting him. There are three women in the novel that most significantly impact Dunstan: Mrs. Dempster, his mother, and Diana Marfleet.Firstly, Mary Dempster has perhaps the most impactful presence in Dunstan’s life. She teaches him to behave unselfishly for the betterment of others, even if that means going against the moral rules of society, for example, after she performs her first miracle and has relations with the homeless man. Mary Dempster took away Dunstan’s childhood because of the guilt he felt after the snowball incident. Dunstan carries this guilt with him throughout the course of the novel. Mrs. Dempster also plays a vital role in Dunny’s life, being the inspiration for his journey through mythology, hagiography, inner spirituality and personal growth. The three miracles that Mary performs essentially change Dunstan’s life profoundly, as recognizing her as a saint and his experience with her offers him a greater insight into the nature of a life lived with the knowledge of the presence of mythological elements in the real world. It also reassures his childhood interest in mythology and saints and push them to forefront of his life and career.Secondly, Dunstan loved his mother yet loathed her at the same time due to her controlling nature, a paradox that troubles Dunstan for a large part of his life. Mrs. Ramsay’s sensible, loving methods of parenting change as the snowball incident leads her to an attitude of resentment and isolation. She equally has very conservative expectations that smother Dunstan and his interests in mythology and hagiography. Mrs. Ramsay’s influence in Dunstan’s life can be compared to that of religion, more precisely to that of Calvinist Protestantism. Dunstan’s mother proves to be very restrictive and controlling as Dunny’s interests in magic and saints oppose to the beliefs and values of Protestantism. Dunstan’s unattachment to the Protestant church therefore translates to his unattachment to his mother. It is because of this tumultuous relationship between Dunstan and his mother that Dunstan is distant and isolated from the other women in his life.Thirdly, as Dunny’s first real and meaningful love, Diana Marfleet plays a vital role in the novel. After the war, she nurses Dunstan back to health and helps him get re-accustomed to the essentials of life. This characterizes her as a sort of second maternal figure in his life. Diana equally renames Dunstan to Dunstable. She effectively becomes the catalyzer for Dunny’s journey to maturity. The name change is a clear demonstration of Diana’s impact on Dunstan: “I liked the idea of a new name; it suggested new freedom and new personality”. She escorts Dunstan into a new world free of war, and instills him into the world of manhood. She introduces him to matters of sexuality and gives him a sense of purpose that he did not have before. However, Diana’s motherly qualities push Dunstan away: “she was too much of a mother to me.” Although their relationship does not work out, Diana transformed Dunstan into a whole, grounded man, and we can clearly see once again how Davies portrays the importance of women in Dunstan’s life. In conclusion, the role of women were vital in the development of Dunstan and the novel. The women in his life are responsible for maturing and turning Dunny into the man he is today. Even though his mother was the root of many of the problems in his life, the majority of the women in the story have been a positive influence on Dunny. This clearly demonstrates how Robertson Davies, through the characters of Mrs. Dempster, Mrs. Ramsay and Diana Marfleet, portrays women as strong, influential, even saintly figures. These women have helped Dunny fulfill his role as Fifth Business, and bring resolution and meaning to the story. Whether it be from his mother who molded him during his childhood, Mary who gave him a lasting connection with the mythology, magic, and the inner spirituality of one self and life or Diana who gracefully opens and heals his heart and mind regarding women and himself again, it is clear that Robertson Davies strongly values women and portrays them in a positive light.  

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