Equus 2 Essay, Research Paper
Equus, written by Peter Shaffer, the creator of plays such as Amadeus and The Royal Hunt Of The Sun creates a psychological thriller that probes deep in to the misguided intentions of religion in a boy named Alan Strang. The play does not stop with character development in him though; it also explores the doctor treating him, Martian Dysart, and even Alan s parents, Dora and Frank.
The play opens with several monologues from the Doctor providing an introduction to himself and his patient, Alan. It does not give much information though, leaving that for later in the play. Alan was brought to Dysart s clinic rather then jail when he committed the crime of blinding several horses at the stables that he worked at. He was at first closed up, communicating only by jingles from television commercials, but then he starts to regard Dr. Dysart as a friend. Dr. Dysart though has his own problems though, battling a recurring dream that has him worried even about his own strengths as a doctor.
The progression of Alan s character is one of many ups and downs. From one minute to another he is on a roller coaster, once appearing better but then falling downhill as fast as he started. For every stride in improvement he makes, he finds himself back where he started in a psychological battle against himself.
Eventually, Dr. Dysart decides that he only alternative course of action to take is hypnosis to help Alan relive what happened at the stables. Instead of being clear-cut, it turns into more of a battle with sexual frustration and worshiping of the gods he seems to revere, the horses in the stable.
There is one horse that seems to mean the most to Allan. Nugget, to him, is a god. He treats it with respect, at one point even placing sandals on the foot of the horse. He rides Nugget naked through the forest during midnight hours without permission. For Alan this is sexual pleasure at its peak, him being one with the horse that he is riding. It can t get any better for him.
The height of the story comes when Alan goes on a date with a fellow stable hand, a girl who originally got him the job. She is quite attractive, and seems to have more then one thing on her mind. She succeeds with this plan and starts to mess around with him in the most sacred of all places, the stable. Alan becomes agitated, and thinking that he has committed a sin against the horses, he blinds all of them in a warped way of asking for forgiveness.
In spite of his own hang-ups, though, the doctor does help the boy work through his obsession, which identifies the horse Equus with God. But the doctor comments that “when Equus leaves–if he leaves at all–it will be with your intestines in his teeth. . . . I’ll give him [Alan] the good Normal world . . . and give him Normal places for his ecstasy. . . Passion, you see, can be destroyed by a doctor. It cannot be created.”
This play explores questions about what is Normal and to what extent society will go to normalize people (or to lock them away somewhere if they can’t be normalized). The role of the psychiatrist in this process both challenges and depresses Dr. Dysart, who hates the losses such normalization necessarily requires, and finds himself envying the passionate obsessions of his patient.
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