Passion and Worship in Peter Shaffer's Equus Essay

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In the play Equus worship and passion are seen in many contrasting lights. In the example of Alan, the boy in the centre of the play, worship and passion are the same thing. What he is devoted to inspires excitement in him, in this case the God Equus. With his parents, it is the same, but in different ways of worship. Alan’s mother is a devout Catholic, and also has worship with a passion, but she is so devoted to this single cause she is unable to experience passion for anything else. With Alan’s father, he is not a religious man and has nothing to idolize, and this creates a lot of passion inside of him with no way for it to escape. Finally, in the case of Dysart, Alan’s psychiatrist, he has lost the way to reach his passion…show more content…
DYSART: What kind? DORA: It was a reproduction of Our Lord on his way to Calvary.” In this way he devotes all his passion towards horses and Equus, the same passion which his mother taught him to devote to Christianity as a child. “FRANK: Well, look at it yourself. A boy spends night after night having this stuff read into him; an innocent man tortured to death – thorns driven into his head – nails into his hands – a spear jammed through his ribs. It can mark anyone for life, that kind of thing. I’m not joking. The boy was absolutely fascinated by all that. He was always mooning over religious pictures.” Because worship is the only thing Alan has ever been passionate about, he cannot separate the two in his mind. Anything he worships becomes an object of desire to him. When we first see him really interact with Equus, it is almost a sexual experience for Alan. And when he’s with Jill, preparing to have sex with her, he can’t think about passion without thinking and hearing Equus. This shows just how inseparable these two ideas are to Alan. Also because of this, in Alan’s mind his god is jealous that he might share passion with someone other than him, which is blasphemy to Alan. “DYSART: The Lord thy God is a Jealous God. He sees you. He sees you forever and ever, Alan.” Alan tries to block out Equus in order to escape his presence, which is why he stabs the horses which are the symbol of Equus
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