Act Two Scene Thirty-five

Synopsis of Scene 35

Dysart puts a blanket over Alan and calms him down, promising him he will make him well again and end the nightmares. He then confesses to the audience that in fact he is lying and cannot cure Alan: if Equus leaves him, Alan will be damaged by the process. Hesther appears, to remind Dysart that his job is to remove Alan’s pain, but Dysart again expresses his fear that by removing Alan’s capacity to worship he will remove something essential to the boy, and make him like everyone else. Although he may remove Alan’s pain, Dysart clearly feels it would be at too high a cost.

Dysart’s last speech tries to make sense of the events that have happened and demonstrates how much he has been affected by them. He feels a chain in his mouth, he says, as though he is shackled, but also as if he is becoming Equus himself. Although Alan may be cured, Dysart is now in crisis.

Commentary on Scene 35

drench of cathode ray: Early televisions used cathode ray technology. Dysart echoes Frank’s contempt for television as ‘shrivelling heads’.

fork: His crotch.

Approved Flesh: I.e. human

Investigating scene 35...

  • Why does Dysart promise Alan something he thinks is wrong?
    • Do you think he can cure Alan?
  • Why is Dysart so concerned that it would be wrong for Alan to become ‘normal’?
    • How does he use irony to describe the normal?
    • Do you sense that Dysart is in fact describing his own life?
  • Dysart’s final speech suggests that he is almost afraid of the power that his work offers him. Why is this?
  • Do you think Dysart is beginning to feel that there really is a horse-god named Equus?
  • Why does he feel the chain in his mouth?
    • What does the metaphorical chain represent?
  • What do you think will happen to Dysart after the play ends?
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