The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

  • Submitted By: Tamara
  • Date Submitted: 03/02/2009 2:58 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 2170
  • Page: 9
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Tami Sefcovicova

Critics have variously described The Fifth Child as ‘a faithful, if chilling reflection of the world we live in’ as well as ‘a brilliant reinvention of the horror story’. Are these descriptions contradictory?

The novella called The Fifth Child is a work that critics are already referring to as ‘a faithful, if chilling reflection of the world we live in’ or ‘a brilliant reinvention of the horror story’. There is some contradictory in these statements. Usually people think that if is something real that it just can’t be horror story because things like ghosts and monster and goblins don’t exist.
The first statement says that it is realistic book due to real historical situation and setting (English suburbs from the 1960’s to the 80’s) and social norms which were typical for this age.
The main characters are Harriet and David the young couple, who has a dream about big house and family and about old-fashion life. It was unusual that they wanted to have an old-fashioned lifestyle, which almost disappeared from the world of ‘greedy and selfish sixties’ full of feminism, divorce-rates, scandals and careerism, in the time of female employment and sexual freedom, the time of small families and gender equality. But David and Harriet were different because they were born in incomplete families, they weren’t unhappy but they knew that their life will not be the same. They had their own plans and they knew what they want. I think they were really brave and strong because they did what they wanted and what they longed for. I felt like we are invited to admire David and Harriet unconditionally. There is the irony in the statements how are they different from everyone else. They deserve to be happy because they believed that they are doing the best thing that they chose the right life so what can possibly go wrong? ‘They had been right to insist on guarding that stubborn individuality of theirs, which had chosen, and so obstinately, the best-this.’

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