Fifth Business Study Guide

About the Author

William Robertson Davies was a Canadian novelist, playwright, journalist, and professor. He was a deemed one of the "men of letters" of Canada, which is a phrase used to describe intellectuals, a term Davies is variously said to have gladly accepted for himself and to have disliked at the same time. Davies was the founding Master of Massey College, a graduate residential college associated with the University of Toronto.

About The Book

Fifth Business is a novel written by Canada’s acclaimed novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor, Robertson Davies. It is part of his Deptford Trilogy and has been called as Davies’ finest and most well known work. Dunstan Ramsay’s fascination with hagiology and a guilty connection with his former neighbor served as the core for this book. The book is told in the form of a letter from Ramsay to the headmaster of the school that he is teaching at.

Main Characters

Dunstable/Dunstan/Dunny Ramsay - The narrator and focal point of the story. He is a highly intelligent man who only wants his life to mean something.

Percy/Boy Staunton – Dunstan’s lifelong friend and rival. He is a spoiled child who retained his rotten attitude well into adulthood.

Mrs. Mary Dempster – a complicated character that Dunstan feels great guilt over because of what happened to her while she was pregnant with her son, Paul.

Paul Dempster/Magnus Elsengrim – a premature baby as a result of a snowball incident that happened while he was still in his mother’s womb. He grows up to become a magician after running away from home.

Liesl – a bearded lady that serves as a business partner to Paul and therapist for Dunstan.

Diana Marfleet – the woman that nursed Dunstan back to health when his leg got amputated. She was the one who sexually awoke Dunstan.

Leola – Boy Staunton’s tormented and long-suffering wife who also became Dunstan’s love interest before he went to war.

Cite this page:

Celis, Christine. "TheBestNotes on Fifth Business". . 09 May 2017