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Guilty Conscience Essay

1003 words - 5 pages

Guilty conscience
In psychology, we learn that there are a few stages in childhood that help us develop unique personalities, fears and preferences. Parents play the role model and mark the child’s education and values taught in life. In Robertson Davies’s Fifth Business, the author tries to show that moral values taught in childhood will greatly impact how a person will deal with guilt in the future. The author shows different approach towards guilt with Boy’s guiltless way of living, Dunny’s guilt–driven life and Paul’s total indifference towards guilt.

First of all, Robertson Davies describes Boy as a typical rich boy who isn’t taught proper morals by his busy parents and doesn’t take ...view middle of the document...

‘‘‘by cable, to do what had to be one’’’(184). From these lines, we can see that Boy asked Dunny to arrange the funerals of his own wife as he decides to stay in England for some unfinished business. We can therefore conclude with these examples that Boy’s ethical values permit him to repress any acknowledgement of guilt throughout his life.

Continuing with Dunny, Robertson Davies makes up this completely opposite character who has been well educated by a strict Presbyterian family who taught him to fear all sins and shaped Dunny in keeping all his sins for himself. This will lead him to be fearful and guilty of his sins throughout his life. In the beginning of the story, Dunny blames himself for ducking Boy’s snowball that puts Mrs. Dempster in tears. That night, he’s haunted by his guilt and takes responsibility for Paul’s early birth: ‘‘‘So here I was…, tormented by the suspicion that my parents were involved in this hog-wallow of sex that had begun to bulk so large in my thoughts, but I was directly responsible for a grossly sexual act- the birth of a child’’’ (18). By these thoughts we can see that Dunny’s guilt has grown seriously bigger than the norm. His guilt will not only guide him to feel ashamed and disgusted of his young self but also do inappropriate actions. In fact, Dunny has a hard time dealing with Diana as he finds out that he shouldn’t have dated her. He feels horribly guilty for playing with Diana’s feelings but is scared to tell her the hurtful truth.: ‘‘‘We talked till three o’clock, complicating our situation …, and trying not to hurt each other’s feelings, despite the fact that Diana wanted to get engaged to me and I was fighting desperately to prevent any such thing ’’’ (84). The tension build from his guilt has also affected his speech : ‘‘‘But as for...

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