Act One Scene Nineteen

Synopsis of Scene 19

Dysart and Alan resume their conversation, after Dysart apologises for upsetting him previously. Dysart uses a kind of hypnotic technique to relax Alan, then talks about the Normal as a potentially negative force.

Dysart then begins to ask Alan questions, which he answers in a trance-like state. He tells Dysart that he spoke to the horse on the beach, who replied, and that the horse-god, Equus, exists in all horses. He confesses to Dysart that he rode the horses from the stables at night, and the extent of his association of Christianity with horses becomes clear. Dysart encourages him to act out what happened.

Commentary on Scene 19

play a game: Dysart is partly tricking Alan here, as the ‘game’ is a hypnotic technique designed to encourage him to speak without inhibition.

The Normal: Dysart suggests here that normality is itself a kind of god, which society worships and which can be both deadening and dangerous.

parts of individuality repugnant to this God [of Health]: Dysart equates his work to theories which were espoused by groups like the Nazis, that only the ‘healthily normal’ is acceptable (and therefore that disability of any sort is unacceptable).

Like Jesus: At this point the direct replacement of Christ with Equus in Alan’s mind becomes much clearer. The depiction of Jesus that Alan had previously had up in his bedroom showed him in chains whilst being held by Pilate.

live in all horses: The spirit of Equus is like a genius (see scene 18) that lives in all horses. This concept is also like that of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 3:16).

More on the Holy Spirit...Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is a member of the Trinity who resides in the souls of those who believe. See Trinity, The Holy Spirit.  

for the sins of the world: Again, this equates Equus with Jesus, who, according to the Bible, died for the sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2).

Two shall be one: This phrase echoes the biblical explanation of marriage given in Genesis 2:23-4.

shall be in thy hand / spake unto you: Both Alan and Dysart echo the typical phraseology of the King James Bible.

Temple … Holy of Holies: Dysart equates the sacredness of the stable for Alan with the most sacred Jewish place of worship from the Old Testament – only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, just once a year. See Temple, tabernacle.The stable is a holy place for the god Equus.

Investigating scene 19...

  • What techniques does Dysart use to encourage Alan to talk to him?
  • How do the stage directions affect your view of this scene?
    • Does it make the scene more powerful because Alan acts out some of his reminiscences?
  • List the ways in which Alan’s belief in Equus as a god relates to Christianity.
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.