Equus scenes 20 + 21 analysis

  • Created by: Amita
  • Created on: 18-06-14 10:00

Throughout this scene, Shaffer builds up the action to its climax, in which Dalton’s suspicions of Alan riding the horses at night is confirmed. The tension in these scenes is especially heightened with the constant prosodic humming of the horse, which is a motif of the ‘Equus’ voice Alan believes in. Similarly, the masked presence standing in the shadows of the stage suggest the eeriness and power of ‘Equus’. The ritual is divided in different stages, each with different connotations.

Firstly, the connotations of the horse’s majestic worth and power are highlighted through the exclamatory followed by the aposiopesis, “Sandals of majesty! ... Made of sack.” It’s symbolic of the sacredness of the hooves, the very elements that provide the horse with power. The reiterative onomatopoeia “Chinkle Chankle” is prosodic of the horse’s bridle and bit and establishes a mutual respect between Alan and the horse since Alan considers them equal, hence why Alan bites it first. The negative adverb “Never” stresses the trust between Alan and the horse: without the saddle their relationship is established as natural and direct instead of domesticated. The stage directions following his decision to be stark naked are symbolic of Alan sacrificing himself to God: he portrays equality to the horse and presents himself equally as vulnerable to it. Therefore the intertextual reference to Jesus’ death on the cross (“Take my sins. Eat them for my sake.. / His last supper”) is a symbolism of forgiveness and foreshadows the horse’s death.



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