April 20, 2014 The Expected
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” Most of the historic novels and plays tend to include an underlying theme where the character happens to misuse their inherited powers and put personal ambition above all else, putting everything at stake. Characters such as Boy Staunton from the infamous, Robertson Davies novel, Fifth Business and Claudius from the classical play, Hamlet written by William Shakespeare, both display characters who struggle in their journey to the top by becoming selfish, willingness to take any step they can to protect their powers and losing their loved ones.
Firstly, as both the characters start procuring powers and their ambitions through different means, both Boy and Claudius slowly start becoming selfish. With being a part of the upper class society, Boy is spending his entire life focusing on his own needs, oblivious to what those needs can do to others. Boy then starts using wealth as a measuring tool to measure other people's value. More of his selfishness is seen when Dunstan brings up the stone that hit and caused Mrs. Dempster to go simple. " ... Boy, for God's sake, get to know something about yourself. The stone-in-the-snowball has been characteristic of too much you've done for you to forget it forever!" (Davies 254) Boy acts as the selfish, arrogant man he is and refuses to own up to his own guiltiness. Boy was able to succeed and move on with his life which was due to not acknowledging the occurrence of something to be guilty off. This quote perfectly assesses Boy's interest because Boy’s greatest interest is himself and to him others do not matter once he reaches his desired goals. In the same manner, as Gertrude rushes to deliver the news to Claudius about Polonius’s death, Claudius responds, “... It had been so with us had we been there ...” (4.1.14). This quote shows what Claudius's first initial reaction was to Polonius’s death and it shows, he is only worried about himself had he been there. With that, Claudius now starts looking at how the murder can affect Claudius’s status as a King. With losing Polonius, and having no absolute remorse for him, Claudius does not even bother thinking about his own wife’s safety. It could have been possible that Hamlet could have had even harmed Gertrude, but Claudius remains too selfish to even acknowledge that. Boy Staunton and Claudius leave no doubt that all they care about is themselves which is a perfect reason for their own downfall in the end.
Secondly, it becomes very evident that Boy and Claudius start taking any step they can to protect their powers. With the traits Boy develops, throughout his successful business journey and trying to maintain his rank in society at the highest position he can, Boy finds an interest in politics. Boy marries Denyse Hornick, who happens to be a figure that is politically powerful. Dunstan describes Boy’s intentions, “He was drawn to her at first because she was prominent in two or three groups ... and thus could influence a large number of votes” (Davies 224). This marriage gives Boy the advantage to get into the parliament along with the high position. In order for Boy not to go off direction in his business, to be able to remain on top, he never wants to be reminded of his childhood or his past. “Staunton did not like to be reminded of Deptford except as a joke” (Davies 172). Boy is completely erasing the snowball accident along with Deptford where he comes from. In the process, Boy only becomes very lost where he is only being determined to make his own name with being interested in taking advantages of other people’s position along with playing with their emotions. To do that, Boy knowingly displays a very self-humble and admirable persona to others than what he truly is and successfully manages to accomplish his goals due to the power hungry