Fifth Business Marriage

Topics: Marriage, Husband, Wife Pages: 8 (3157 words) Published: December 16, 2012
Bobby Ha
Mrs. Rizzo
2 November 2012
Marriage: The Reverse Effect
“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other” (Carl Jung). Marriages in the novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies play a huge role in the character's development and plot. To start off, the wives whom are married to Boy Staunton and Amasa, are forced to play a role in that fits their husbands but are not able to put on the persona. Secondly, marriage holds back the thought of perfection because one's advancement is going to be greater than the other and the mesh between the two is what impedes on this achievement. Lastly, marriage in Fifth Business illustrate that the one who loves more will always be powerless to the insensitive one. Thus, marriage in Fifth Business destructively impacts the characters' lives when one is forced to put on a persona to satisfy the spouse. Both Boy and Amasa want their wives to play a fitting role in their lives and occupation where their wives have to construct an image to please society which crumbles their marriage because of expectations not being fulfilled. For example, Boy Staunton quickly earns success with his determination and efficiency with his brilliant but simple, management principles. He becomes a well-known and respected figure in the Head office of banks. He realizes that he needs a wife to uphold his magnificent stature and to drive him forward to attain an even higher social ranking in the world: “He was now a favored cherub in the heaven of finance, and he needed a wife who could help him to graduate from cherub to a full-fledged angel, and as soon as possible to an archangel. So Leola had lessons in tennis and bridge, learned not to call her maid ‘the girl’ even to herself, and had no children as the time was not yet at hand.” (115). Boy wants Leola to play the wife of a great successor by forcing her to put on a persona of a rich wife. It is not out of necessity but out of Boy's want which forces Leola to take these lessons; he becomes materialistic and pushes Leola to become the perfect wife for a great businessman like himself. He uses her to climb the social ladder, but backfires when she does not fit the role. This leads to Boy neglecting her where it gets to the point of insanity due to loneliness when she acts inhumane by trying to take her own life because the lack of love he has for her. In addition, Boy shows regret marrying Leola when his thought of a perfect wife did not fit Leola's criteria: “But his idea of a wife for himself would have the beauty and demeanour of Lady Diana Manners coupled with the wit of Margot Asquith. He let me know that he had been led into his marriage by love, and love alone; though he did not say so it was clear he owed cupid a grudge.” (141-142). Leola is not the strong, objective wife Boy needs to expand on his success which leaves him disappointed because he feels as if he made the wrong decision by marrying her. This also reveals that their marriage tarnished his love he once had for Leola because she could not keep up with his progressing life which she might have been able to before they got married. The loss of love results in Leola trying to rekindle the spark in which lit the flame of their childhood love but failed miserably as he distanced himself from the family, leaving her with the option of suicide. Therefore, Boy's standards for his wife, Leola, lead to their separation spiritually which ruins Leola's sanity because she is not able to satisfy the role Boy wants her to play. Alike to Boy, Amasa forces Mrs. Dempster to put on a persona to please the village but is not able to reach the requirements for a pastor's wife which leads to her sanity and dignity being stripped away from her. For instance, Amasa brings home a city girl, whom is bathed in luxury and leisure, does not know how to cook or clean, and cannot be the assertive religiously strong wife...

Cited: Davies, Robertson. Fifth Business. New York: Penguin Group. 1970.
Jung, Carl. "The Quotations page." QuotationsPage. N.p., 01 2012. Web. 2 Nov 2012. <>.
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