Alan is the main protagonist in the play; his actions help Shaffer expand all the main themes in the play. These themes, which include worship, normalcy and passion, help readers examine the society's foundations which are derived from his disturbing actions. The play is about a journey into Alan’s head, which the audiences are taken through by his psychiatrist, in order to get his disturbing acts. The seventeen year old boy, Alan, is depicted in the play as an ordinary boy with an unremarkable life, until he blinds the horse with a hoof stoke. His life before his cat is depicted as that of young teenage boy without any more outstanding achievements. He has a job in the local hardware shop, which is depicted as boring. We can argue that it is also poorly paying, since the boy has to seek an additional part time job at a local stable. The part time job at the stable that Alan picks helps that author expand the play’s plot line. This is because the job exposes Alan to the horses, which he eventually blinds. These acts change his life from an unremarkable reality to become the main character in Peter Shaffer‘s play. In the first act of the play, Alan is shown fondling a horse’s head, introducing the audiences to his strange obsession with the horses.
To Alan, horses are revered creatures which the author depicts as gods to the boy. The implication of the horses’ spiritual character to Alan is implied by his memorization of a verse in the Bible in the book of Job. He is impressed by the story of one horse called Prince, which is able to communicate and can be ridden by a special boy (Shaffer, 1977). Alan’s passion for the horse is confirmed by his doctor and his boss Mr. Dalton. Through his talks with the psychiatrist, the audiences learn that Alan worships Prince, the special horse, which is referred to as Equus in Latin.
Alan was brought up by over protective parents who are depicted as an atheist father and a Christian mother in the play. His parents were unable to agree on the nature of religious belief that their son should be exposed to when growing up. However, his mother is depicted as having tried to expose him to the Christian faith. At puberty, a picture of a horse replaces that of Jesus in his room. This signifies his conversion in religion from the Christianity to worshiping horses. Alan and Jill had a sexual encounter that failed in the stables. It triggered his disturbing actions where he blinded six horses in Mr. Dalton’s stable. Alan’s case changes his life from what Peter Shaffer had depicted as unremarkable life of a teenage boy to that of a disturbed character. In his attempt to heal the boy, Martin exposes the boy’s complex character to the audience. His conduct, although perceived as unusual by the society, is a measure of passion.
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Alan and the psychiatrist, Martin, have a passion as a common characteristic. This feature also makes them different. This is because while Alan is able to express his passion, Martin keeps his passion repressed. By repressing his passion, Martin is depicted as a normal character as per the population's perception. Alan, on the other hand, is perceived as an exceptional, by the society, for expressing his spirit in an unusual manner. The two characters are, however, similar in that they share complex personal traits. Martin is disturbed by his profession and wonders, whether it does any good to his patients or harm. Alan, on the other hand, chooses an aberrant form of faith, which is worshiping horses. They also are depicted as having repressed sexual feelings in the play. Alan is depicted as unable to have sex with Jill in the stable, while there is no sex Martin’s marriage. The issue of sex is a sensitive issue between Martin and his patient Alan.
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