What archetype is Diana intended to represent throughout Robertson Davies' Fifth Business?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Diana Marfleet, a nurse in Robertson Davies' Fifth Business, represents the mother archetype (the majority of the time). Diana appears in part two of the novel, "I Am Born Again." In this section, Ramsey (the protagonist) has been injured in the Great War. His leg has been torn apart by shrapnel, and he is recovering in an English army hospital. Diana is the nurse caring for Ramsey.

Diana's caring and motherly disposition comes across openly. She helps Ramsey to recover, both mentally and physically. This is where her motherly attributes change. As the "relationship" continues, Diana falls in love with Ramsey. Although she intends to marry him, Ramsey refuses because he does not want another mother in his life. She gives Ramsey a new name, given he was considered dead by the military. She names him (another characteristic which identifies her as a mother-figure) Dunstan.

Psychologically, Diana represents the reverse of the Oedipus or Electra Complex. While each of these focus upon the child desiring the parent, in this case, Diana desires her "son."

Regardless of the interpretation of Diana (from an individual reader's point of view), she represents the caring and nurturing nurse typically idealized and illustrated in regards to those who care for men wounded in war.

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