Paper On The Character Od Liesl From

Fifth Busines Essay, Research Paper

Shaking Hands with the Devil The life of Dunstan Ramsey, in the novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, was affected greatly by characters in his life. However, the character of Liesl revealed concepts that Dunny never knew and allowed him to understand his role of fifth business in the story of his life. Liesl was a Swiss woman from a family that owns on of the big watch firms. Her full name is Lieslotte Vitzliputzli, which refers to the Devil from the gothic play A Faust@. She was tall, strong with huge hands and feet. Her hair is short and and wears men=s clothes. She had a large jaw and juts out, giving her mouth a monkey-like appearance. Her eyes are small and deep-set. In Dunstan=s opinion she is: A…was the ugliest human creature I had ever seen.@(p.205). However, she is quite attractive, for her clothes are well made and of good quality. She moves gracfully and speaks with a beautiful voice with a foreign accent. She is well cultures and well educated. In the story, she sponsors the magic show of Paul Dempster (Magnus Eisengrim). She was also a mechanic who assists with the mechanical devices used in the Magic show. Her character is rather important for she reveals, to Dunny, the concept of good and evil. She does this by telling Dunny that he should not keep promises as it is in human nature to tell secrets. She tells him: AYou have paid such a price, and you look like a man full of secrets – grim- mouthed and buttoned- up and hard-eyed and cruel, because you are cruel to yourself.@ (P.217) She allows Dunny to understand that his morals has made him unhuman and despise everyone, except Mrs. Dempster which, in his mind, makes Mrs. Dempster a saint to him. It could be said that Liesl could also represent the Devil in Dunstan=s life. She tried to temp Dunny just as the Devil did to St. Dunstan, a name given by Dianna Marfleet. The original saint was tempted by the Devil, who took the form of a fascinating woman. He resists by twisting the Devils nose with a goldsmiths tongs. Like the Devil, Liesl attempts to seduce Dunstan and Dunstan resists her, much like the saint, by twisting her nose after beating her down with his

wooden leg. This battle between Dunstan and Leisl symbolizes Dunstan victory over the Devil. Leisl reveals to Dunny into Dunstan=s character mainly because he has kept his emotions at bay, and now, she cause him to act irrational and his ability to resist evil, the Devil and show his great character and will power. His outlived life of emotions burst over her temptation represents Dunstan=s need to express his feelings. Liesl tells him this: AWhy don=t you shake hands with your devil, Ramsay, and change this foolish life of yours? Why don=t you, just for once, do something inexplicable, irrational, at the devil=s bidding, and just for the hell of it? You would be a different man.@ (P.226) Through this, he was able to meet his own Devil, his inability to show emotions. Dunny feels that his encounter with the Devil has helped him: A The Devil proved to be a very good fellow, he suggested that a little compromise would not hurt me. He even suggested that an acquaintance with Him might improve my character.@ (P.249). Liesl tells Dunstan he is A fifth business@. This very important as he able to comprehend where his life fitted in. Hhe understood that he was not the main character in this life, however, without him, he realized that the story of his life was not possible. She tells him: A Who are you? Where do you fit into poetry and myth? Do you know who I think you are, Ramsey? I think you are Fifth Business.@(p.227) Finally, Liesl=s importance to Dunstan is revealed at the end of the story when she reveals the answer to the strange death of Percy Boy Staunton: A He was killed by the usual cabal: by himself, first of all; by the woman he knew; by the women he did not know; by the man who granted his inmost wish; and by the inevitable fifth, who was the keeper of his conscience and keeper of the stone.@(p.266) Dunstan Ramsey=s learned to live through the teachings of Liesl, who taught him to take risks in life, learn to know his own Devil and his position in life, as fifth business. He also embraced his darker personality which was brought on through his life, which made him to be a complete person. Through Liesl, he was able to learn a great lesson, learning to live. Bibliography Davies, Robertson, Fifth Business, Penguin Books 1970


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