Analysis of Robertson Davies' Novel Fifth Business

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Goldman, Marlene. "Madness, Masculinity, and Magic in Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business: A Tale of Hysteria; or, ‘the Suffocation of the Mother’."University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 4, 2009, pp. 991-999.

In essence, this journal analyses the novel Fifth Business’ fixation on straying minds, wandering ladies, both male and female tramps, and young men who keep running off to the war or joining the circus. The writer argues that in Fifth Business, tramping and tramps threaten to disrupt the gender roles which protected the settled, middle class life in the anecdotal Ontario town of Deptford. In addition, the writer argue that in the novel, these crises of mobility are usually associated with insanity and, particularly, with hysteria. Further, the article makes a claim that the association between hysteria and mobility is unsurprising, since the former has been recognized since ancient times with sex-role conflict, deviant sexuality and pathological wandering. Alienation is also one of the major topics discussed in this article. It posits that of the majority of characters in this novel live lives of isolation. This article concludes by positing that the representations of hypnosis, theatricality, role-playing, sex-role conflict, and hysterical wandering, Fifth Business coercively reviews the nineteenth-and mid-twentieth-century originations of hysteria.

This article put forth a reasonable argument in its analysis of the novel, for instance, it is true that tramping and tramps threaten to disrupt the gender roles which in essence secured the settled, middle-class life in this imaginary Ontario. Thus this information is valid and as it seem, this source is valid. Also, the novel Fifth Business is a kind of a recall to the century old conception of the disease of hysteria.

In conclusion, this source will be very vital in my project as it provides a new perspective to what I had already learned. Unlike other sources I have read, this source provides a rather deeper analysis of the issues of sexuality in the novel. I will incorporate this source in my project by broadening my project to include an analysis of the issues that this sources will provide for instance, sexuality. For instance, the theme of alienation is one of the most important topics my project will analyze. From this source, I have more ideas on the concept since I have that for a few, that alienation is purposeful. For example out of an unconscious fear, Dunstan ends up being content in his part as "Fifth Business"to Boy Staunton and any other individual who utilizes him as an associate.

Works Cited

Goldman, Marlene. "Madness, Masculinity, and Magic in Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business: A Tale of Hysteria; or, ‘the Suffocation of the Mother’."University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 4, 2009, pp. 991-999.

November 24, 2023
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