Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 272
Compare and contrast the beliefs that Alan’s mother and father have on concepts such as class, religion, sex, and, of course, horses. What effect have each of the parents had on Alan’s development?
Dora Strang describes the religious picture which hung above Alan’s bed as ‘‘a little extreme’’ in its depiction of Christ ‘‘loaded down with chains,’’ being beaten by Roman soldiers on his way to crucifixion. Research the figure of Christ in the history of Western art, analyzing some of the different ways in which he has been depicted. What do you think disturbed Alan about Jesus and the Christian religion as a whole? What prompted him to start his own religion?
Discuss whether Equus ultimately seems to be supportive or critical of the value of psychoanalysis.
Research the theories of Carl Jung, who Shaffer has called ‘‘one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century.’’ Drawing on Jung’s concept of archetypal images and other aspects of his philosophy, discuss the importance of the horse (and the centaur) as a symbol in Equus.
Research the mythology and religious practice of Classical Greece. Discuss the significance of this pagan culture to the themes and characters of Equus. In particular, how does Shaffer’s play enact the philosophical clash between the Apollonian, or rational, and the Dionysian, or instinctive?
Research Sigmund Freud’s theories of human psychology, including such concepts as Id/Ego/ Superego, transference, repression, and defense mechanisms. Use as many of the concepts as seem applicable to provide a Freudian analysis of Alan’s childhood development and how he came to commit his particular act of violence.
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