Act One Scene Eleven

Synopsis of Scene 11

Dysart tells us that after that talk with Alan, Dora came to see him. She explained that the picture of the horse that Alan had had on his bedroom wall when he was younger had replaced another picture, that of Christ being taken to the cross. Frank, who disapproved of religion, had torn down the religious picture after an argument, which had upset Alan. When the picture of the horse replaced it, he seemed less distressed, however.

Dysart says she can see Alan, but Dora says she’ll come back one afternoon, without Frank. Dysart asks her to describe the photo of the horse, and she says it was taken from an odd angle, in which the eyes were most prominent. When she is gone, Dysart feels a strong premonition that the horse will be very significant in this case.

Commentary on Scene 11

Our Lord … Calvary: The picture is of Jesus Christ, being taken to the hill known as Calvary, where he was crucified. Dora explains that the picture shows Christ being beaten by the centurions, and that even she thinks it was excessively gruesome. Below is an example of the kind of image she means:

Picture of Jesus Christ being taken to the hill known as Calvary, where he was crucified.

photograph of the horse: The fact that Alan hung the photograph in the same position is significant; he has literally replaced one god with another, and creates his own belief system around the horse in the picture.

a giant head: A horse’s head. Dysart is himself beginning to feel the power of Equus, which implies that it is not all in Alan’s mind.

Investigate...

  • How effective do you find the narrative method of the play, with Dysart telling us the events whilst we can see re-enactments of them on stage?
  • What effect do you think the substituting of the horse picture for the picture of Christ has had on Alan?
  • Why do you think Dysart is beginning to feel threatened by Equus?
    • What do you think the last line of the scene means?
  • How would you describe the atmosphere of this scene?
    • Do you feel you are beginning to understand why Alan behaved as he did?
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