Fifth Business Essay, Research Paper
In the novel Fifth Business , the author Robertson Davies is successfully able to relate both the themes of magic and religion throughout. He achieves this relationship between the themes primarily through the characters and their actions. Dunstan Ramsay, Paul Dempster, Mary Dempster and Liselotte Vitzliputzli all help to illustrate the close relationship between magic and religion.
One of the characters that Davies uses to relate the theme of magic and religion is Dunstable Ramsay. Dunny was brought up in a Scottish Presbyterian family in Deptford, Ontario. While in the war, he kept himself busy by reading the New Testament and states Arabian Nights and the Bible were getting pretty close , referring to both magic and religion. After servicing in the war, Dunstable is renamed Dunstan by Diana after Saint Dunstan. Dunstan s study of saints becomes his passion and he later travels around the world in search of information about several living saints. During his search for saints, Dunstan coincidentally comes across Le grande Cirque forain de St. Vile and Illusions, a circus where Paul Dempster preformed magic. This clearly indicates how Dunstan is related to both magic and religion.
Paul Dempster, another character in the novel illustrates the relationship between magic and religion. Paul is the son of Mary Dempster who Dunstan considered to be a saint. His father, Amasa Dempster is the Baptist parson of Deptford and is considered to be religious. After leaving home, Paul joins a travelling circus, becomes a magician, and is later renamed Magnus Eisengrim by Lisel. Along with the idea of magic, Eisengrim s show Soiree of Illusions incorporated themes of myth including Dream of Midas, Vision of Dr. Faust and the Brazen Head of Friar Bacon and wants himself and his illusions to be marveled at . Eisengrim is later subject of a false autobiography written by Dunstan where Eisengrim is portrayed as a wonderful and mysterious person like a saint is. Here the relationship between magic and religion is evident.
Mary Dempster, who is named after a saint can be considered to be a saint in this novel. She is the mother of a famous magician and the wife of a priest. This freely displays the relationship between magic and religion. According to Dunstan, she is considered a fool-saint because she performed three miracles, but without being aware of it. The first involved the rebirth of Surgeoner by an act of charity. The second was the revival of Willie from the dead and the third was her miraculous appearance to Dunstan during the war at Passchendaele.
Liselotte Vitzliputzli otherwise known as Lisel is introduced midway through the novel, but still plays an important element in the theme of magic and religion. The theme of religion is demonstrated when she asks Dunstan do you know what my name really means? Lisel s last name is the demons name in the play The Vision of Dr. Fautus where Faust was a magician who sold his soul to the devil. During a fight between Lisel and Dunstan, Dustan twists her nose, reliving the story of Saint Dunstan where he twisted the devil s nose when he came to tempt him in the form of a beautiful woman. Lisel is Dunstan s devil and companion who adds to the relationship of magic and religion.
Throughout the novel Fifth Business , author Robertson Davies relates the themes of magic and religion. He completes this by cleverly using the characters and their actions to reflect the ideas of magic and religion. By doing this, he is able to relate both themes seamlessly as if they were one.