Fifth Business Essay: Guilt

1175 words 5 pages
Fifth Business Essay: Guilt

Guilt is a powerful emotion that can greatly affect the course of a person’s life. Dunny’s character, in Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business, first experienced guilt at an early age due to a tragic accident. A snowball that was meant for Dunny hit a pregnant woman, Mrs. Dempster, causing her to go into premature labour. Although her child, Paul Dempster, survived, the guilt that Dunny experienced from his part in the situation would stay with him for the rest of his life. Guilt stayed with Dunny’s character throughout his life, and continually affected all of his actions.
As a child, Dunny felt guilty for the accident, and its affect on Mrs. Dempster. As he sees the weak child, Paul, grow his guilt also
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“Thus I lost, for a time, one of the fixed stars in my universe, and as I had brought about this great change in Mrs. Dempster’s condition by my own stupidity I felt much depressed by it.” (Davies, 233). Dunny had made Mrs. Dempster’s well-being his life, so any pain he caused her, he felt extremely responsible for.
As Dunny grows older he finally learns to let go of the guilt that he has carried with him throughout his life. Dunny confides in those that are important to him, which helps free him of his guilt. Padre Blazon tells Dunny that he has to forgive himself. “Forgive yourself for being a human creature, Ramesay. That is the beginning of wisdom; that is part of what is meant by the fear of God; and for you it is the only way to save your sanity. Begin now, or you will end up with your saint in the madhouse.” (Davies, 178). Blazon tries to tell Dunny that he did everything he could for Mrs. Dempster, and that he has to realize that he’s only human. Liesl also tells Dunny that he is only a human, and that he needs to start to focus on himself. “No. I wanted to tell you that your are human, like other people … You are a decent chap to everybody, except one special somebody and that is Dunstan Ramsay. How can you be really good to anybody if

#3 you are not good to yourself?” (Davies, 225-226). Liesl helps Dunny realize that he needs to focus on himself, and that it’s the only way that he’ll ever truly be happy. Dunny then


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