Grange English Department
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Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus
Join date: 2010-04-06
|Subject: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:59 pm|| |
Summarising Act One of Equus
Your task this week is designed to help you collate the ideas we have looked at so far in Equus. If done properly this task can serve as an excellent revision resource for you all!
Choose one of the following themes that we have explored in relation to Equus:
v) The influence of Society
vi) Society vs Individual
Using quotes and analysis show how Shaffer explores the theme in at least three seperate moments in Act One. This should essentially be a miniature essay and at least three reasonable size paragraphs as it constitutes both your homeworks for this week (1 hours worth).
The idea here is to look at the Act as a whole, and consider how Shaffer gradually reveals themes and social commentary throughout the act. Consider how characters and events can be symbolic as well as any sense of authorial intent.
Join date: 2010-08-01
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:59 am|| |
The idea of religion in equus is first introduced when we meet for the first time AlanÂ´s parents, Dora and Frank.Both show a contrast in personalities and also a sense on tension and conflict, as Frank represents repression as he sees television as a negative influence a "dangerous drug"(pg. 11) and Alan repeats what Frank says when he repeats to Dysart "Religion is the opium of he people" that means that people turn to religion because they donÂ´t have nothing left and summision as Dora is the religious mother and lets Alan watch television, contradicts Frank and tells us about his religious education and early obsession with horses when she tells the story of "Prince " the horse, and also tells Dysart that he has "a photograph of one up in his bedroom"(pg. 14).Here we begin to see a confussion pf horses with religion.
Also in scene 10 we see the theme of religion, in the scene were we meet the horseman that is the symbol of rebellion and contrast with the image of Frank, and Dora is also present showing us the side of religion, from that poin onwards we start to build our own religion, to seek to have something to worship and see why Alan has his religion on the horse as wee see his first expierence with a horse.We see that he has the horse as his religion as the stage directions suggest exitement, the laughing and screaming that we never saw before "Alan begins to laugh" (pg. 24). Also Dora speaks of Americans first reaction to riders as gods, they were united with the horse.The story of Prince is about one man controlling the power of the horse and unity of horse and rider.Biblical references of the majesty and power of the horse, which wee see that Alan enjoys to have the power and have something to worship.
From scene 19 until the end of the act we learn more of AlanÂ´s religion to the horse Equus, when Dysart is with Alan and talk about it, Alan reminds us that is his own religion as Equus is "Like Jesus"(pg. 50) and he says that the horse says "I will save you"(pg 51) which show the biblical references that Alans has, probably influenced by Dora. Also many biblibal references we can see is that equus has "His Temple"(pg. 51) and many more that show the christian parallel to the Equus imagery, from the kneeling to Equus showing the prayer and reverence, the stable being as a church, "he is everyone" as god is a part of us all - the holy spirirt until the equus in chains as jesus on the cross.Alan seems to lack any true beliefs as hsi religion lacks doctrine and depth and the audience may look at it as an empty faith.It seems to be empty as his relgion to Equus id defined by the ritual and worship.So we can see that Shaffer crtiticeses tje emptiness of the modern faith as they focus on the ritual and not so much on the doctrine the relgion has and the ideas behind it.Shaffer is exploring the need of faith in a person and represents it in Alan and Dysart as their search for faith, for a religion with a meaning t hold on to. Shaffers is also exploring the human need for a direction, a voice to tell them what to do, a purpose that gives and identity and unity to their empty life.
Join date: 2010-08-01
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:28 pm|| |
In act one of the play Equus we are introduced with the idea of individuality vs. society, a theme that is very important along the play and is mainly represented by through the characters of Alan and Dysart. In a basic form, society is defined as an organized group of people living together with common interests. Individuality on the other hand is defined by the state or quality of being personally distinct with interest of the community. The problem with this two is that society and the individual cannot be separate because they work together. For a society to work there must be pre established laws created to ensure that the individualâs desires donât impose on the liberty of the rest. At the end it is impossible to have complete and entire freedom and liberty inside the rules of society, this bring the conflict between individual liberty and society. This is exactly the problem Alan has to face in his life, trying to live his own life ruled by his own personal passions and rules and desires and at the same time being accepted and treated as normal by the rest of society. Clearly this is not the case, and Alan is send to Dysart to be cured with psychological treatments.
The problem of society vs. individuality is also present in the character of Dysart. At the beginning of act one Dysart accepts to take Alan and cure him, but through out the process Dysart becomes aware of the harm he might be causing to Alan in trying to cure him. He becomes having the doubt of choosing between doing his job like a good psychiatrist and putting back Alan to the society conventions or permitting Alan have his unique form of worshiping his own God, that at the end is Alanâs only real passion and the essence of his life. âThe normal is the good smile in a childâs eyes â all right. It is also the dead stare in a million adults. It both sustains and kills â like a God. It is the ordinary made beautiful: it is also the average made lethal. The normal is the indispensable, murderous God of health, and im his priest.â In this quote we can see the doubt arising on Dysartâs head saying that normality becomes boring and ends up killing oneâs soul. Dysart like the priest represents the idea that at the same time he is doing his job to please society he is killing the souls of his patients because he is destroying the most important aspect of a personâs life, the individuality that distinguish them form the rest.
Shaffer ends up act one with an intermedium with the purpose that the audience go away thinking and trying to answer personally some of the answers Shaffer might want as to take. We as audience start to question our selves if it is actually good to be what society considers normal? Or should we follow our passions and be a individual?
Join date: 2010-08-15
|Subject: Week Three Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:39 pm|| |
Religion in equus is a very important theme and it can be clearly explored throgh various situations in the play.
The idea of religion is mainly expressed by the influences of Alan's parents, and the obsession of Alan with horses. I will talk about three very important scenes that explore the theme of religion. First of all and most significant one would be when Alan describes the scene of him in the stable worshiping Nugget. This is the most clear example of the current Equus-Christian, where alan clearly used a very similar form of worshiping, including an Amen at the end. Another important example of religious things is the relationship of alan with his parents. having a religious mom and an atheist dad makes a contrast, and this produces the heavy differences of point of views within the family and creates tension. The last point of religion i want to remark is the creation of his own religion, which is very similar to the catholic one, having paralell symbols and imitating the rituals, this goes through all the play, but it is essential to understand it.
Join date: 2010-07-30
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:45 pm|| |
The idea of normality is questioned by Shaffer through Equus, mainly focused to the question: what is normal? Normality is defined by society, so what it may be normal in a society, it may be abnormal in another one of different beliefs. So the theme of normality comes to discussion through the themes of society and religion which is an important component of society which establishes which things should or shouldnât be done.
The theme is fully established in the end of scene _*_ were Dysart says something like: âbut what is normalâ*, which suggests the problem: you canât define what is normal as it depends on the situation or context. People are constantly influenced by society, especially through TV en religion. They tell us what to do and people have become used to it, dependent. Shaffer is trying to show us these are negative influences which make us to be all equal in beliefs, tastes, moral, habits, etc, not differentiating us from others, therefore establishing a normalcy which wouldnât exist if everyone thought and acted differently not copying each other; if everyone had a different religion, Alanâs religion wouldnât be seen as abnormal.
The other aspect of normality which is explored in Equus is that normality is monotonous, boring. This is shown through Dysart, who envies Alanâs vitality and passion, but is restrained by society and doesnât have the courage to break this barrier and fully enjoy life by following his instincts, his likes, which is Greek mythology. This also makes Dysart question his profession; he feels his taking peoples soul, vitality and transforming them into ânormalâ boring people for them to fit in society. This is shown in Dysartâs dream in scene 5, were the people beside him are society that tell him what to do and keep on eye in everything he does. So Dysart is in the dilemma of curing Alan or not curing him, who isnât really sick but different. If he cured him he would take Alanâs identity, vitality, transforming him in a different person, a boring person, only to be socially accepted as normal. And if he didnât and refuses to, he would be seen as abnormal.
* I donât have the book so I cannot say in which scene it is or if the quotation is trustworthy.
Join date: 2010-07-28
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:36 pm|| |
In Equus one of the most important factors clearly is religion, but it is also important to analyze the importance and influence of society. This affects not only Alan Strang, but all characters of the play. Shaffer uses this influence in two ways. First to define characters and also to create tension and different problems in the play.
The first influence of society is seen at the start of the novel where we are presented to Alan's father, Frank. He is known because of his atheism, but also because he is a socialist. His strong posture and beliefs are expressed in the scene where he prohibids Alan to watch television. This socialism of his is a clear example of the influence of society. His beliefs where influenced by others. this is very important because this influence also affects on the daily life of Alan.
Another influence of society is expressed when Alan is at the stable and he has to deal with many buyers who ask for things. Here shaffer clearly tries to suggest the effects and problems other people can bring you. Shaffer demonstrates it by putting Alan in a stressful situation. The reaction of Alan suggest and shows to the audience that society sometimes asks way too much from people and that it can be stressfull.
Finally theres a huge contrast between Dysart and Society. This is clearly expressed by the dream. Shaffer achieves to create tension and also to show that Dysart feels he cant dissapoint society. It is clear because of the dream that Dysart is influenced by society, he feels pressured and doesnt want to fail. This influence becomes very important because it is Dysart that has to confront and help Alan, but at the same time society makes it difficult for Dysart.
Join date: 2010-08-01
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:48 pm|| |
One of the main themes in act one of Equus is the influence of society to people. Shaffer emphasises this theme through both of the main characters, Alan and Dysart. This theme is developed through act one, by the question of how does society affect on the personality and actions of these characters.
On one hand, this theme is emphasised through Dysart at the beginning of act one by the issues that he has of his work as psychiatrist. We can see in the beginning of scene one that he shows some kind of chaos. As a psychiatrist he represents to society order and sanity, though Dysart breaks that because it seems to be in chaos. So we ask ourselves, why he is still working as a psychiatrist. Further on, in scene five, Dysart has a dream which emphasises his issues with his job. The dream represents his job as a psychiatrist; he feels he is sacrificing the children he treats to the good of society, he feels he has to destroy his patients to make them normal. Also, he is questioning his work, but here we figure out the answer to our question. He knows society expects him to continue or he too will consider wrong. Therefore he conforms to society even though he feels society pushes him to do something he doesnât want to.
On the contrary, this theme is emphasised in Alan by showing how society influence can also not affect in peoples actions and feelings. Alan is showed as a strong character which fights for his ideals and thoughts. We can see this by how this important character develops his own religion or by the fact that he doesnât follow what his parents say, or even what society think that is right. If he would follow this influences (parents, and society rules), he wouldnât blind the horses, so this shows he has a different image and own principles. Even though, Alan seems to want to be saved, he doesnât fight against Dysart; therefore we can doubt and think that Alan wants to be part of the normal society. Therefore we could say there is some indirect influence from the society to Alan.
|Ade del Rio|
Join date: 2010-08-01
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:04 pm|| |
In act 1, Shaffer presents the theme of marriage with Dora and Frank as well as with Dysart and his wife Margaret. We can see how Frank and Dora represent very opposite persons, which causes a conflict whithin them and which Alan has to live with. Also we see how Dysart, as the act develops, realizes and accepts that her wife has never understood him, and that their marriage is a faliure.
This can be seen as a criticism to what society expects from people and to follow what is normal, as we know how Dysart feels some kind of jealousy of Alan because he does what he wants to do.
We can see in the first scenes where Frank and Dora are introduced as characters, how they constantly contradict each other and discuss. Later on in the act, when Frank goes to talk to Dysart, we can see how he hides things from Dora, and before we also knew about things she did behind his back like letting Alan watch television. This mistrust shows the vision of weakness of marriage, and what it causes to Alan.
On the other hand we have Dysart's marriage, which can be described as dull and pointless. He wouldn't have talked much about it if it wasn't for what Alan told him in scene 17, where he brings up the theme of his wife. Then in scene 18 he tells Hesther about what he feels about his marriage and how Margaret doesn't understand him and his passion for Greek mythology.
So we can say that marriage in act 1 is not proposed as an ideal thing, as we see what a fighting couple can cause, and how a couple who seemed to be in love long ago happen to actually not be meant for each other, and have to live as a couple anyway.
Join date: 2010-07-31
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:10 pm|| |
i think psychiatry is a major theme developed troughout the novel, though I think it is not as central as other themes suchs as religion, or normality. but it plays an important part emphasising and helping usunderstant better the other important themes.
the whole of the novel is developed by a psychiatrist and it takes place in a psychiatric hospital. this, first of all, makes us view things from a more objetive, or medical, point of view, because we are suposed to see things from the rational side. this is extremly important, considering the first act is the building up of "facts" which gives us informartion about Alan and Dysart, and this facts are rarely rational. there is a huge contrast between rationality and Alan, who only follows his animal drives or instincts rather than reason.
there is also a contrast between this rationality (psychiatry, science) and Dysart, who is suposed to be the voice of this reason. throughout the first act we begin to understand that Dysart is becoming jelous of Alan's lack of reason. first of all, because he follows his animal drives, and society's expectations and limits do not stop him. and also, because he has this grate god, who forms the protagonistic part of his life, from which Alan lives the most powerful experiences. it is sugested that science (psychiatry) is a substitute for religion, and if he relies so much in science he can not be religious and therefore, he will lack forever that thrill that Alan experiences. there is also this theory in psycology that states that religion is only there to satisfy the needs of human to believe in something grater, to evolve as a person and to understand things, and that someday psychiatry will be so developed it will satisfy those needs and there will be no need for any god.
psychiatry therefore, helps us understand better Dysart's troubles with Alan. and this is curcial for understanding the play better which evolved around these two characters, and if not their relationship, their development as individual characters and the infuences upon each other.
|Joaquin Don Pepito|
Join date: 2010-08-01
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:25 pm|| |
The role of psychiatry is portrayed throughout the play by Dysart. Shaffer deals with the necessity of humans for worshipping, being humans, gods or anything, and their necessity of searching of a meaning for life. It is worth pointing out, the exploration he does in Alan's mind by means of asking him questions. As Alan is a bit stubborn, Dysart has to use techniques to "trap"his mind and be able to catch as most information as possible.
Dysart seems to be interesed in Alan dreams and feels he has understood him once he discovered his sexual obsessions with horses. Throughout the book, he encourages Alan to speak of his past, and like this, uncover Alan's mental problems. His main, or the method we can appreciate the clearest is that he observes his thoughts, analyze them, and interpretate his dreams. This makes Alan to remember and relive those relevant events that happened during his childhood, mainly with horses and religious controversy, which have conclued in the boy's mental dissorders.
As a psychiatrist, Dysart represents sanity and order. However it seems to be in chaos at the beginning "i am lost". His use of rhetorical questions forces us to confuse, and this makes us part of the story. Even, he seems to have us as his psychiatrists. Nonetheless, as the story takes place his ambition to uncover Alan's dissorder increases, and he performs his objective in a more effective way. Everytime Alan answers are longer and not so many one-word answer.
Join date: 2010-07-30
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:22 pm|| |
Shaffer talks a lot of the influence of society in Equus
. The way society influences Alan is the way Shaffer uses to show it to us.
The first example of the influence of society we can see in the play comes from the first influence we get in our lives; parents. Alan's parents leave a huge scar on him, we can see this for example when the horse-blinder sings those jingles from TV (TV, by the way, is another mayor influence of society in Alan's life and in our lives in general). This jingle singing is not by chance, it is because of the conflict that Frank and Dora transmits to Alan's little head. When Frank forbids TV to Alan and then his mother lets him watch on the neighbor's house, Alan receives this conflict of beliefs with great confusion. This seems to be one of Shaffer's points, but it is more towards how parents do it wrong in society more than the influences affect us in society. Therefore he leaves the idea that it is not enough to not force believes in our children but we can not leave them without any beliefs at all, we as parents should guide the children towards their own beliefs and help them to recognize what they really want in life and what we really believe in (as we all seem not able to not know what we really want in life). Dora did not help Alan's cause because she just showed Alan he could not hear his father, instead of considering what he says and perhaps confronting to defend what he wants; she did not give him another option but rather not considering his father beliefs.
This leads to our second example of the influence in society in Alan's life. When he can not identify himself with his father's beliefs and seems to have no guidance, he starts to seek out for a voice to tell him what to do. The first
influence he receives is from TV, therefore the jingle singing. Here Shaffer proposes that is when we can not find a good influence in our homes is when we tend to follow external influences. In this case it is just innocent jingle singing, but there are more negative influences that good ones out there so this normally ends in miscarried people following the wrong influences. We can see this again in more depth when Alan's mother teaches the catholic way to him and Frank denies this possibility, again leaving Alan with nothing to believe in. Therefore Alan seeks for a new influence which he finds in a psalm about Prince the not ridden horse, and creates his new religion based in the god Equus. The fact that this idea is repeated, leaves the sense that Shaffer gives more relevance to this idea of misguidance makes us turn into external influences.
The third clear example we get in Act one is the one of the "drug" Dysart gives to Alan. This drug is a sugar pill, a placebo. First of all the placebo is the clear example of influence, it makes us do things we "could not do" without it but it really does not change a thing on us. Alan said he could not say anything unless he was drugged, but Dysart just gives him a fake pill and Alan started talking. Although this is a very little example in Equus, I believe Placebo effect has a lot to do with the influence of society in these days. How about those wristbands that makes us more powerful and give us better balance? Or just the fact of being more confident makes us achieve more? This characterization of the placebo in the play, for me, is the ultimate and most powerful sign of influence of society in our minds.
Join date: 2010-08-01
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:35 pm|| |
Shaffer introduce the theme of religion early in the play. When we meet Dora and Frank. Alans parent is a clear image of opression and lack of spirituality. We can see this in the quote "religion is the opium of the people" this means that he sees religion as a type of drug that weak people use to manage to go on in their lives.
On the other side we have Dora, a very catholic woman that in a certain way teaches Alan of how to worship a God. Both parents have such extreamely opposite personalities that all they do is confuse Alan and makes him feell lost. In my opinion having a good roll model is essential for a human being to develop well in society. Alan starts to worship Equus because of his desperate need of looking up to something. Equus gives Alan the hope that there is something bigger out there.
In this way Shaffer shows the importance of religion in people. He uses this theme to define the characters from Alan to his parents. After all this whole book is based on how a boy manage to love something so much that it becomes a superior thing, a God.
Join date: 2010-04-06
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:18 am|| |
From Javiera Saavedra
Clearly, society v/s individual is a recurrent and important theme developed through Equus. Shaffer tries to ask us a rethoric question to make us think about the way in which an individual is influenced by society and the extent to which we are influenced by it. The author never sugests any answere to these question because his aim is to make us reflex about this theme deeply explored.
in the very beggining of the play, we are introduced to this theme by Shaffer when Alan sing songs of adverts he has seen on TV. They are songs of protest and Alan sing them to protect himself and his individuality. the influence of society in an individual is very big, and it is transmitted through the media; TV, radio, books, etc. Although Alan seems he is very influenced by society, later in the play we discover that he follows his own ideology based on catholisism because of the difference there is between his parents ideologys. Anyway, we can see how Dora is influenced as well as Frank because they think their son crazy because of his different way of living life.
Dysart is supposed to represent sanity and cure children such as Alan by bringing them back to normality which is society and its rules. since the beggining of the play we are introduced to this duality when Dysart, in scene 5, act 1, describes his dream to Hesther. Dysart doesnt know what to do; he thinks that when ever he cures a child, he kills his individuality for the sake of society and because of the moral created by society. It is very difficult for Dysart to believe that what he is doing, his job, is the right thing to do and that is why in his dream he is a priest who sacrifises people. He thinks he is not doing well and this is why Dysart questions his job.
Shaffer created different families in the play, for example Alan's family and Dysart's family, and he describe these families as normal ones, ones that follow the rules imposed by society and moral, which is the opposit to Alan, but they live in boredom and they do not have real life experiences, they dont feel new feelings and they dont sense nwe senses. the one who does live life as a new experience and with new sensations is Alan, who breaks with society and is a rich individual. Shaffer speaks through Dysart to express this idea of "dead stare in a million adults" refearing to society's emptyness.
Later in the play, Dysart hipnotises Alan and says "i have cut from them parts of their individuality" and he goes back to his dream, understnding that he killed children's individuality for society. Shaffer here is criticising society for being empty and for not experiencing new sensations, he is exploring the need for a rich individuality within people and the need of freedom to be happy.
finaly we realise that Dysart wants to experience Alan's feelings through him and feel like if he had an identity of his own. we see in act 2 how Dysart continues to be confused about his job and the duality of society v/s individuality and he doesnt know what to do with Alan, if to sacrifice, and kill his identity and "take away his worship" or if leaving him as he is to let him have his own identity and leave him with "the core of his life".
so, what we are communicated by Shaffer is the following question: what is best, to be ourselves and follow our own will or to follow society, repress our impulses and have internal problems because of it? is it better to have our own individuality or to be part os the society?. i think that we should have the courage and strength to fight for what we desire and not do what society expect from us. however, poeple are always influenced in one way or another by the media or "phoenomena" as Shaffer says through Dysart and we end up repressing a lot of our feelings, leading to painful internal conflicts. i think that Shaffer achieved his objective and makes all the audience think about the recurrent theme always present through Equus: society or individuality? more than one of us will feel identified by a character.
Join date: 2010-04-06
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:19 am|| |
From Josefina Vallarino,
In Equus we can see that the theme religion is one of the most important and is constantly referred in Act One.
The first time this theme can be seen, is in Dysartâs dream. Here, Dysart is talking about Greeks, the Gods of these times and the rituals. Even though the theme isnât too visible as in other scenes, this is the first time we are introduced to what the act will take about, and makes us start to think why this is so important in what Dysart is trying to resolve, Alanâs âmadnessâ.
The next scene we are introduced to Alanâs parents, Dora and Frank. These two characters can be said that Shaffer created them to create a contrast between the normality of them and Alan; the characters are, in the first act, as âpropsâ. Dora is extremely catholic; she reads Alan Bible passages, specially the crucifixion. On the other side we have Frank, a completely atheist father, against all the things Dora teaches to their son.
In scene 10, when Alan has the first contact with his future God, a horse, Equus, we start to see, even more strongly, the religion issue. When Alan sees the horse, his excitement, his emotion can be compared to the emotion of a catholic person seeing a cathedral for example, and all of these feelings, thoughts are expressed by the stage directions, which are vital throughout the entire book to understand what Alan is thinking and experiencing, such as, âAmusedâ, âAlan nods, eyes wideâ (p.23). In this scene, an interesting comparison can also be made. The horseman, the one who introduces Alan to the horse, can be said to represent the apostles in the Bible. Alan would be the people, the ones who are introduced to this âJesusâ, âGodâ, which is the horse. The horse represent freedom, own decisions, happiness to Alan, I think this is one of the main reasons why Alan follows this âGodâ, to go against what his father likes âcome down here at once. Right this moment.â (p.23)
Later on the play we can see more direct images of the new religion that Alan has created and Catholicism. âWhy is Equus in chains? For the sins of the worldâ (p.51) this and many other quotes show the relation that Shaffer is making with the catholic religion. On my opinion, Shaffer is relating both âreligionsâ to show us one important issue on modern life, the fact that everybody needs, and searches for something to believe in. It can be a God, many Gods, or even science, but we need an institution, or someone to tell us what to do, or what to believe. In Equus, Shaffer is showing us a desperate character that searches for something to believe, overwhelmed of the extreme Catholicism of his mother, and the atheism of his father, he looks for an alternative choice, for an alternative world. And this is what Shaffer is trying to show to the audience, that we donât need to care about the rest, we donât have to follow the âcurrentâ, anyone can believe in something different, of course with certain limits , which are given either by law or by our values.
Join date: 2010-04-06
|Subject: Re: Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:21 am|| |
THEME: The Influence of Society
âThe influence of societyâ is seen throughout the play in different ways, this theme changes as we advance, as well as the characters as we see a mental development, especially on Dysart and Alan, this helps us understand why Alan is the way he is and why he did things that are not simply understood.
At the start of the play we see a clear example of the influence of society. In chapter 3 Alan first meets Dysart and is presented as an annoying stupid boy. We can see this as he continually repeats a series of commercials like the âdouble mint gumâ, âT in Typhooâ etc. So at first we think of Alan as a mentally ill boy (as the play advances we understand that he is not). The reason of why he does that is because of a state of protest. A protest against his father who doesnât let him watch television because he says is a bad influence; we can see this in the quote: âAnd what do they watch? Mindless violence! Mindless jokes! âŚ â(Frank). So we can see television as a negative influence over Alan, although he doesnât watch, he uses programs to annoy Dysart and the reader.
Another part in the play where we see âsocietyâ influencing Alan is on chapter 7. In this chapter society is presented to as in the form of Frank and Dora, the two sides of religion. Dora, Alanâs mother is very religious and Frank, Alanâs father is an atheist. Both of this characters influence Alan in different ways. We can see this when Frank blames the bible for all what has happened to Alan, we see this in the quote: âI am an atheist âŚ Bible thatâs responsible for all this.âIn contrast to Frank, Dora is very religious and she is the first one to introduce religion in Alanâs world, she reads prayers to him at night and made him believe that there was a more powerful being. Both parents try to introduce Alan their own ideals, this can be represented as society always trying to indulge religion to people, society is always trying that people believe in this or believe in that, when sometimes people (in this case Alan) just want to experiment their own beliefs and try new possible religions.
Finally at the end of act one, we see Shaffer rejecting all the negative influence of society, as Alan breaks free from society, creating his own religion and his own god to worship. This can be seen on chapter 19 when Dysart hypnotizes Alan and he (Alan) tells him everything that happened the night he rode Equus. In this scene we see how Alan believes so deeply in his own religion and how he invented it by his own means and beliefs. Alan represents that part of society who go against everyday doctrine and who create his own rules and beliefs the ones who live against the influences of society.
Weekly Task Three: Themes in Act One Equus