Feminism In Robertson Davies's 'Fifth Business'

1550 Words 7 Pages
“When the personal, emotional, sexual experiences of women’s lives gained significance as legitimate social concerns with political consequences, men were forced to examine their own socially constructed roles as men…” (Plain and Sellers) This notion takes shape in Robertson Davies’s 1970 novel, Fifth Business. The novel presents an interesting debate over whether or not it is a feminist text since it was written by a non-feminist man. However, Fifth Business was authored during the second wave of feminism, a prominent movement which focused heavily on gynocriticism, defined as a form of feminist literary criticism that “seeks to appropriate female literacy” (O’Connor), and consequently may have had unknowingly had an effect on the way in which it was written. Although the work is androcentric and is both set in and written in a time period where women were not treated with the same respect as the modern day, it still explores aspects of the feminist lens through its diverse set of female characters, its disapproval of patriarchal societies, and its understanding of issues surrounding traditional gender roles and of the various forms of gender-based discrimination. Overall, Fifth Business is undeniably feminist.

Fifth Business contains an assortment of female characters. Unlike non-feminist works, none of the female characters one-dimensional, rather they possess distinct attributes, mostly relating to diligence and strength. The first of these female characters introduced

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