Guilt Driven Action: Dunstan’s and Cobb’s Tricky Choices

July 8, 2022 by Essay Writer

The pressure to succeed often influences individuals to make spontaneous choices regarding their life. Sentence on info. In Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business and Christopher Nolan’s Inception, the cause of action in both Cobb and Dunstan’s lives is fueled by their fear of regret. The loss of Cobb’s wife and separation from his children is what leads to his daring adventure in order to find peace with his past and happiness for his future. Likewise to his situation, Dunstan finds himself making bold choices in order to avoid a missed opportunity for an improved fate. Throughout both the novel and movie there are noticeable similarities between the leading characters regarding their logic behind choices, as their motives both stem from a past mistake. As Cobb navigates his way through his challenge at hand the reminders of his faults follow alongside.

In the introduction to the movie Inception, a phone call is answered by Cobb and it is revealed that he has two children awaiting his and his wife’s return home, but it is quickly disclosed that his wife is no longer living. The death of his wife was suicide but a note left behind shows evidence falsely accusing him of her murder, and leads him to flee the country. When Cobb is given an opportunity to return home he takes it despite the dangers it involves due to the fact he fears this may be his last chance at returning to his children. The descent into adventure begins with Cobb’s introduction to Ariadne who is a talented architect student. As the young student is welcomed into the team of thieves she learns about Cobbs terrible past with his wife and learns of the dangers that his conscience holds. When he is confronted by Ariadne about the danger he could put the other team members in she demands that she accompanies the team in the job, and Cobb gives in requesting another seat on the plane. (Nolan, Inception). The fear of harming others influences him to make this impulsive decision, as he knows the dangers of dream sharing with or without his unstable conscience. As the team travels into the dream world to gather information from Robert Fischer the team is faced with many challenges, and Cobb is forced to make life-threatening choices to save himself and others.

As the team begins the journey through the dream they quickly run into turmoil as they realize Fischer’s conscience has been trained to fight against the extraction of information, and they are nearly killed by a train. While the time on the clock continues to decrease Cobb and Ariadne are forced to enter the dangerous state of limbo to save another teammate. Despite the fact that Cobb is able to return to the real world without his teammate, he fears the regret of losing another person to the world of dream sharing and stays behind to help him. The danger that he puts himself in to save his loved ones and to be reunited with his children further show the distress he faces when confronted with the possibility of regret. Despite the modern concepts presented in this piece of media, the moral struggles Cobb faces are similar to the ones Dunstan is presented within a historical time period.

In the novel Fifth Business it is shown throughout Dunstan’s life that the choices he makes are reflective of his fear of failure and missed opportunities. The event that triggers the spontaneous choices made in Dunstan’s life is the accidental attack on Mary Dempster. In the years following the attack, Dunstan’s life is dedicated to caring for Paul and Mary Dempster who he feels responsible for the challenges they both face in life. The regret he feels from this event is what leads him to make wiser choices to prevent the feeling from occurring again. In an intense conversation with his mother regarding Mrs Dempster, Dunstan is faced with a choice leaving him between a rock and a hard place, “She concluded by demanding that I make a choice between her and ‘that women.’ I made a third choice… and enlisted” (57-58). The fear Dunstan has of choosing his mother or a woman he loves leads him to make a choice that involves neither of them and pushes him to start his own life my joining the army. Dunstan’s enlistment in the army altered his life greatly and leads him to make ample choices to further fulfill his life.

In the years after Dunstan’s departure from the army, he faces many struggles regarding his rehabilitation but continues to expand his knowledge of the world. After selling his childhood home and father’s business he allocates the money towards a better education, “In the autumn of 1919 I entered University College, in the University of Toronto, as an Honours student in history” (101). The choice to return to school rather than to let his disability control his life shows Dunstan’s aspiration for success, as he refuses to give in to a satisfactory future. After Dunstan begins a steady job at an all boys school he searches for Mary Dempster, as he still feels the guilt for the loss of her sanity. Following the death of Mary’s aunt Dunstan becomes sole guardian of her, and puts her in the best nursing home he can afford while he maintains his own needs,” Do you ask: If he couldn’t afford to put the woman in a private hospital, or to get her into a private patients’ section of a government hospital, how did he pay for those jaunts abroad every summer?… In my servitude to Mrs Dempster I was not wholly lost to my own needs and concerns… And I had to have some rest, some refreshment of the spirit,” (172). As Dunstan dreads losing a vital enjoyment in his own life along with the opportunity for redemption to Mary Dempster, he takes action in the best of his abilities to provide for the both of them; further proving that his fear of regret leads to action within his life.

The final opportunity that Dunstan is given in the novel shows that he is not a man to overlook an occasion despite his age or condition, “This looked like an adventure, and, at fifty, adventures do not come every day” (202). The initial feeling of guilt that Dunstan feels in his childhood leads him to take risks and choices to prevent the feeling from occurring again and is shown throughout his entire life. In a similar fashion, both Dunstan and Cobb overcome their fear of regret by taking action within their lives.

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