What is Dunstan Ramsay's character archetype in Fifth Business?

Quick answer:

Dunstan Ramsay's character in Fifth Business corresponds to Carl Jung's archetypes. We see his personas as caretaker, soldier, and scholar. We note his anima/animus in how he cares for people and how he goes on big adventures. His shadow comes across in the initial snowball fight. Finally, he arrives at his "self" by writing a letter that unifies all of his experiences.

Expert Answers

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Before we can talk about the various archetypes that connect to Dunstan Ramsey’s character, we should probably talk about archetypes. Who came up with them? What do they mean?

The theory of archetypes is credited to the famous psychologist Carl Jung. Jung advanced the idea that there are basic themes and central components to the human psyche. These elements are so powerful that they transcend cultures and time periods.

The four primary archetypes that concerned Jung were

  1. Persona
  2. Anima/animus
  3. Shadow
  4. Self.

We see examples of all four in Ramsay.

First, persona. A persona is something humans create. It's a mask, image, or identity that humans construct for other people and the general outside world. Think about social media. When you post a picture or opinion, you're creating a persona: a way in which you want people to perceive you.

In Fifth Business, Ramsay has an array of personas. He's Mary's caretaker, Willie's caretaker, a soldier, and a scholar.

Anima/animus is how all humans contain traits that are commonly associated with males and females. We see Ramsay's stereotypical feminine traits in how he cares for people. We see his stereotypical masculine traits in his adventures in Europe and Mexico.

The shadow is the mischievous—some might even say devilish—side of humanity. It contains humankind's creative and destructive impulses. We see Ramsay's destructive impulses in the initial snowball fight and in the role he might have played in Boy/Percy's death. We also see his creative impulses in the letter itself. What is Ramsay doing with the letter? He's recreating all that has happened to him.

Lastly, there is the self. The self links to Jung's notion that all that human experience has some kind of unity or sense (even if it mostly makes sense in an absurd or fantastical way). We see how Ramsay finds his "self" through the act of writing the letter. By writing down all that has happened to him, Ramsay is connecting his experiences. We might say that he's becoming one with himself or whole.

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