Peter Shaffer's Equus text guide

Published in 1973, Equus creates a fictional backstory to a crime committed in Suffolk involving the blinding of six horses. The play includes themes of religious adoration and ritual sacrifice. In the 1970s the play ran for two years at the West End before successfully moving to Broadway for over 1000 shows.

This text guide will help you explore the context in which it is written, the themes and images that are addressed, the intricacies of the characters and the way the plot develops.

Peter Shaffer

Peter Levin Shaffer was born in Liverpool in 1926 to an Orthodox Jewish family. He had an identical twin brother, Anthony (1926 – 2001), who was also a writer. As children the twin boys were often dressed alike, and grew up with a strong sense of rivalry, made stronger by their similar professions. Read more ...

Working man in the 1970sContext of Equus

In the 1970s, when Equus was written and first performed, Britain was becoming more socially progressive, there was a growing movement of individualism leading to a rise in interest in psychiatry and psychology. Read more ...

Dive in to the Equus text guide

Synopses and commentary - Scene by scene synopsis, commentary and analysis of the entire play.

Characters in the play - Detailed analysis of the important characters in Equus and the role they play.

The Equus Timeline - Helpfully puts history, literary events and Peter Shaffer's life side by side so you can make sense of events.

Themes in Equus  - Research themes and significant ideas that feature in Equus.

Are you a teacher?

We hope you will find this resource useful in the classroom.

Downloadable free Equus worksheets, ready to be printed and used in class.

How to do well in your essays

Decide what the key words of the question are, and underline them.

If you are asked to analyse an extract, read it through two or three times.

Do not adopt the first possible approach - be willing to dispute the terms of the question if you are given the opportunity.

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