Changes In Identity In Robertson Davies' Novel Fifth Business, The

1075 words - 4 pages

Changes in Identity In Robertson Davies' novel Fifth Business, the author uses the events that took place in Deptford to reveal character identity. Three characters in the novel from Deptford: Boy Staunton, Dunstan Ramsay and Paul Dempster, leave Deptford to look for a new identity to get rid of their past one. Though for some, the journey was a difficult one, it ends up turning out for the best overall. The three main characters of the novel, all of whom to some extent try to escape their small town background, change their identity to become people of consequence. All in some way take on a new identity. Stuck in this transformation is the assumption that one's original self, especially one's small town origins, must be abandoned before one can become significant in the world, which shows how desperate these people are to get rid of their old indentity and claim a new one. The first character in which this is apparent in is, Paul Dempster. Who, as an outsider in Deptford due to his mother?s identity, tries to find a new identity for himself in a number of different ways.Firstly, Paul Dempster grows up as an outcast in Deptford. Through his mother's ?simpleness' leading the tight social world of the town, to cast out his whole family and force's Paul to leave the town and create a new image for himself. Paul runs away to the circus in his early teens because of the mental abuse he took from the town because of his mothers incident with the tramp. Dunstable comment's, "Paul was not a village favourite, and the dislike so many people felt for his mother - dislike for the queer and persistently unfortunate - they attached to the unoffending son," (Davies' 40) illustrates how the town treated Paul because of his mother's actions. With the way that they did treat Paul and his entire family, it?s no wonder why he wanted to change his identity. Paul leaves his past because of the actions by his mother and the guilt he feels because his "birth was what robbed her of her sanity," (Davies' 260).This quote explains why Paul left Deptford. However, while Boy merely tries to ignore his Deptford past, Paul tries to create a completely new one and Paul asks Dunstan to write an autobiography that "in general terms that he was to be a child of the Baltic vastness, reared perhaps by gnomelike Lapps after the death of his explorer parents, who were probably Russians of high birth." (Davies' 231).However Paul does not want his book to represent his past life in Deptford because he did not want the rest of the world to view Deptford as a corrupted town. Therefore, Paul Dempster is a troubled child because of his mother's actions in Deptford which in turn force Paul to leave Deptford and to create a new identity for himself. The second person who attempts to build a new life by changing his identity is Dunstable Ramsey.Dunstable Ramsey is haunted by the guilt of Mary Dempster over his entire life and he must create a new identity for himself. After a snowball hit Mary...

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