Monsters in Robertson Davies' Fifth Business

Essay by szczygielHigh School, 12th gradeA-, December 2004

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A Dictionary of the Human Creature

Throughout the chapters of Robertson Davies's critically acclaimed literary labour, the reader is subjected to an extraordinary ensemble of characters, all of which possessing their own form of monstrosity. Despite there repulsive appearances, however, the monstrosities of Fifth Business provide a powerful substance for the unveiling of theme within the novel and the uncovering of the true humanity of many important characters. The finest examples to support this statement are the characters of Liesl, and Boy Staunton, who are the epitomes of the physical and moral monsters within the novel's psychological momentum. Though the impressions made by the monstrosities of each character are pronounced and somewhat revolting, they are undeniably essential to Fifth Business and construct the very humanity from which they deprive.

The first example of a monster within the novel is the intellectually charming Liesl, who provides Robertson Davies with the perfect model of physical monstrosity.

Liesl is the unfortunate victim of a natural disfigurement that has left her easily identifiable by the ugliness of her features. This is made obvious throughout her time in the spotlight as she frequently receives unfavourable criticism for her appearance in the eyes of Ramsay, "she wore a man's dress, had short hair, and was certainly the ugliest human creature I had ever seen." (Fifth Business 205). In addition to simply being ugly, Liesl's features are also reminiscent of those possessed by a monster, proven by Ramsay's first impressions of her on his South American tour, " she had big hands and feet, a huge, jutting jaw, and a heaviness of bone over the eyes that seemed to confine them to small, very deep caverns."(205) As well as possessing a monstrous appearance, Liesl exhibits a monestrous ferocity, displayed during her comic struggle with Ramsay, "she...