Act Two Scene Twenty-five

Synopsis of Scene 25

Dysart and Hesther are talking about Alan and his mention of truth drugs. Dysart thinks Alan mentioned them because he wants to be given one, and is tempted to offer him a fake pill. Dysart feels that Alan is ready to relive what happened, and that this may help him to do so. At the same time, Dysart appears to envy the worship that Alan has for Equus, and is in some ways reluctant to take that away from him because it seems to be the most important thing in his life.

Hesther disagrees, however: she sees only that Alan is in pain, has caused pain and should be cured. Dysart argues that his pain is his own, and that in fact he is jealous of Alan. He admits that he feels himself to be a hypocrite, by failing to live his life as he wants to. By contrast, although Alan has committed a criminal act, he is also free and living life to the full when he is with the horses. 

Hesther suggests that perhaps Alan is simply looking for a new father figure, but Dysart thinks it goes deeper than this.

Commentary on Scene 25

placebo: A placebo is a medicine which does not have any chemical effect, but which the patient believes will work. Often this allows the power of the mind to operate, to the extent that the patient believes he or she can feel the medicine working.

abreact: A technical term meaning to act out events, causing a release of repressed emotions.

with my body … worship: This is a line from the marriage service in the Book of Common Prayer – see Liturgy The solemnisation of matrimony:The exchange of rings.

Margaret’s the puritan. I’m the pagan: Puritans were a Christian sect popularly associated with joyless religious observance, in contrast to the immoral abandon associated with paganism. 

Kao-Pectate: A medicine used for treating diarrhoea. 

centaurs: A centaur is a mythical creature who is half man, half horse.

Kodachrome snaps: A brand name for colour snapshots (printed photographs).

Mount Olympus: This is a mountain in Greece, considered by the ancient Greeks to be the home of the gods.

Dionysus: The Greek god of wine, madness and ecstasy.

Investigating scene 25...

  • Why do you think Dysart seems to pity Alan?
  • How is Hesther’s approach different from Dysart’s?
    • Which do you agree with?
  • Do you think that Dysart is a hypocrite?
    • Why do you think he has been so affected by Alan’s case?
  • Hesther makes some suggestions: that Alan will transfer his worship of Equus to Dysart, or that Alan is looking for a father-figure. Do you think either of these suggestions is accurate? Explain your response.
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