Themes of fifth child
The Fifth Child is a potent and suggestive piece of writing. It is first and foremost a criticism of the British society on different levels. Doris Lessing’s vision of this society is stern, satiric and bleak.
Some of the major themes tackled in this book include the importance of family, the Swinging Sixties, tolerance, the role of women, motherhood, sacrifice, loneliness, rejection, violence, fear, and more.
The Swinging Sixties:
- In the unconstrained atmosphere of England in the late 1960's, Harriet and David Lovatt defy the "greedy and selfish" spirit of the times with their version of tradition and normalcy: a large family, all the expected pleasures of a rich and responsible home life, children growing, Harriet tending, David providing. Even as the days’ events take a dark turn - an ominous surge in crime, unemployment, unrest - the Lovatts cling to their belief that an obstinately guarded contentedness will preserve them from the world outside.
- Two social misfits as they do not partake in what the 60’s had on offer.
- Lessing describes David and Harriet as “conservative, old-fashioned” in the midst of the rebellion of the 1960s. Like their generation, David and Harriet engage in a rebellion, but it is a reactionary one. They disapprove of the lax morality of their era and the feeling that “the spirit of their times, the greedy and selfish sixties, had been so ready to condemn them……to diminish their best selves.”
- David and Harriet aspire to a life of “pleasant suburbia”. They are not swept up in the social causes of their peers, and their rejection of the sexual freedom offered by late 20th century society is symbolized by their denouncing of the Pill.
- Lessing has a keen eye for the paradoxes of the free love decade. She notes, not without humor, that Harriet, as a 25-year-old virgin, was treated with the type of bitchy solicitude usually reserved for women with “loose morals.”
- Financial problems (part of the reality of those