Journey to Self-Actualization

Comparing Fifth Business and The Heart of Darkness


1. Grab a piece of paper, and write down 6 of you favorite attributes about yourself

2. Cross out 3 of those attributes and imagine how you would be

imagine how different your life would be and how greatly you would be impacted

3. Slowly rewrite your 3 attributes you crossed out

Like your psyche, without all parts- you are incomplete


In Robertson Davies's Fifth Business and Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", both Percy and Kurtz fail to reach self-actualization in addition to seeing women as weak and dependent.

Argument 1- Stereotype of Women

Heart of Darkness Quote #1

"It's queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there had never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over". (Conrad 40)

Heart of Darkness Quote #2

"'What a loss to me-to us!' - she corrected herself with beautiful generosity; then added in a murmur, 'To the world'". (Conrad 104)

Fifth Business Quote #1

"'Mary, what made you do it?' She looked him honestly in the face and gave the answer that became famous in Deptford: 'He was very civil, 'Masa. And he wanted it so badly'". (Davies 39)

Fifth Business Quote #2

"Dearest Dunny: This is the end. Boy does not love me and you don't either so it is best for me to go. Think of me sometimes. I always loved you. Love, Leola" (Davies 176)

Argument 2 - Failure to Self Actualize

Heart of Darkness Quote 1

"When I had a chance I begged him to try and leave while there was time; I offered to go back with him. And he would say yes, and then he would remain; go off on another ivory hunt; disappear for weeks; forget himself amongst these people - forget himself - you know". (Conrad 84)

Heart of Darkness Quote 2

"He informed me, lowering his voice, that it was Ktz who had ordered the attack to be made on the steamer. 'He hated sometimes the idea of being taken away ... He thought it would scare you away - that you would give it up, thinking him dead". (Conrad 91)

Fifth Business Quote 1

"He was now Boy Staunton, and it suited him admirably...he was Boy Staunton because he summed up in himself so much of the glory of youth in the postwar period. He gleamed; his hair was glossier his teeth whiter than those of common young men". (Davies 99)

Fifth Business Quote 2

"'Don't nag me, Dunny,' he said. 'I feel rotten. I've done just about everything I've ever planned to do, and everybody thinks I'm a success ... But sometimes I wish I could get into a car and drive away from the whole damned thing". (Davies 227)

In summary

Looking at Kurtz and Boy, both had started on a similar path to self-actualization; however they got lost focusing too much on their ego resulting in their lack of self-wisdom ultimately causing them to never self-actualize

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think that depending on how and where your raised, you are able to self-actualize easier than others?
2. How would you know you are straying off the path to self-actualization?
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