Equus
the God of horses

 

 

By: Francesco
Lepore

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In the play Equus
written by Peter Schaffer, horses play a symbolic meaning throughout the
play.  It’s Alan’s strangs fascination of horses at such a young age that
leads him to believe and praise the God of horses called Equus. He becomes
obsessed about horses at such a young age by his mother who reads him books
about the revelations of God and biblical stories which influences his interest
towards horses. When he first encounters and rides a horse at the age of 5 this
feeling of excitement builds in him and influences his love towards the horse.
Horses have a symbolic meaning in this play since they represent the freedom
that Alan’s strangs is being restrained from by his parents, represents a very
religious aspect of the play and the eyes in particular illustrates a little
window frame where Equus could see the real world through horses eyes.

 

 

Horses have a huge
religious importance in this play. After being brought up by a strict religious
mother, Alan is being influenced in following religion and starts to believe and
praise the god of horses Equus. The quote “Equus—son of Fleckwus—son of Neckwus—Walk…Here we go. The King rides out on Equus,
mightiest of horses. Only I can ride him. He lets me turn him this way and
that. His neck comes out of my body. It lifts in the dark. Equus, my Godslave!
…Now the King commands you. Tonight, we ride.” (Pg.73 Act 1, Scene 21)Illustrates
Allan’s obsession with horses and how he glorifies Equus since only a king
could ride on him. Kings back then were seen as godly figures since they had royal
blood.

The quote “”Prince begat Prince! Prance begat
Prankus!” …”Behold—I give you Equus, my only begotten son!” (pg.
50 Act 1, scene 14) illustrates Alan chanting to a picture of a horse hung
on top of his bed.  Him
chanting to his picture in his room of a horse clearly illustrates Alan’s
worship towards Equus and how he sees him as his God. Alan strongly believes
that horses and humans are one and that he shall ride the horse naked to show unity.
Horses have a very religious importance in this play since it enables Allan to
believe in something and in salvation. Horses give Allan a purpose to exist.

 

 

 

 

 

A horse’s bit, along with the rest of the chains
that bind him, symbolize the oppression of freedom.  This clearly reflects the difficult life that
Allan has gone through. Since life wasn’t so easy for Allan growing in a household
with 2 parents that didn’t really agree with each other, being alone permitted
him of being free and allowed him to let go with horses. Since Freedom is
extremely important to Alan, who feels confined by his own life, he has sworn
to set these horses free from the sins of humanity. He does this every night
while everyone is sleeping. He sneaks to the barn and detaches nugget to then
ride him nakedly through the fields so they can become one and then sexually
climaxes on top of him. (His way of making love to the god Equus)The quote
“I’m
raw! Raw!Feel me on you! On you! On you! On you!
I want to be in you!
I want to BE you forever and ever! –
Equus, I love you!
Now! –
Bear me away!
Make us One Person!” (Pg. 74 act 1, scene 21)Depicts
his love and affection towards Equus. This quote clearly shows his passion
towards Equus and how he wants to ride the horses so that he and they could
become one. This shows a very rare moment of Allan finally feeling free.  

 

 

 Lastly, the horse’s eyes represents a window
that enables Equus to watch over the human world.  The eyes in general have a very powerful
meaning in this play and this is why Alan decides to blind 5 horses. Alan
decides to blind the innocent horses because he strongly believes that Equus is
watching over him at all times through the horse’s eyes.  Alan has only showed love to Equus by riding
nugget every night. Alan has never really liked girls besides Jill the girl he
worked with. He decides to take her on a date and after their date, the 2 of
them want to proceed further by having fun and Jill proposes to do it in the
barn.  The quote “what on earth is the
matter with you? Look if the horses offend you, my lord, we can just shut the
door. You wont have to see them alright?”(Pg99 act 32, scene 2) Illustrates
Alan’s guilt of making love with Jill in the presence of Equus .When their just
about to make love, Alan starts to feel guilt towards Equus because he’s his
only love and he’s about to make love in front of his God. In an attempt to
save himself and to prevent Equus from seeing, he decides to blind all the
horses in the barn so that Equus could stop watching over him through horses
eyes.” The quote Equus … noble Equus… faithful and true … god-slave ….
Though-God-seest-nothing” (pg.105 Act2, scene 34) represents Alan’s final words
spoken to Equus before he decides to blind the horses so that his God doesn’t
judge or watch over him sleeping with Jill.

 

 

In conclusion, horses have a significant
presence symbolically throughout the whole play. Horses represent a religious
aspect of the play since Alan strongly believes in Equus the god of horses, the
bit that’s inserted in their mouth symbolically represents the oppression of
freedom and the horses eyes represents Equus vision on earth. It’s Allan
passion towards horses that makes him unique and distinguishes him from the normal
average people. After blinding 5 horses Alan is brought to DR. Dysart who eventually
cures him from his mental illness but at the same time removes what Allan’s
likes most which are horses. 

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