Equus Peter Shaffer Analysis

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In Equus by Peter Shaffer, a psychiatrist, Martin Dysart, begins to question his career. He has a dream where he is physically hurting children and wonders if the dream is directly connected to what he does in his job. Dysart believes that he is harming children. Dysart has a vivid dream about cutting up children. He is clinically participating in an ancient Greek ritual as a chief priest. He is describing his dream to the audience. “In it I’m a chief priest in Homeric Greece. I’m wearing a wide gold mask, all noble and bearded, like the so-called Mask of Agamemnon found at Mycenae.” Shaffer’s use of allusion reveals that Dysart is very confident in what he does in his profession. The Mask of Agamemnon belonged to a great warrior in ancient…show more content…
Dysart is describing the dream to the audience. He states, “The only thing is, unknown to them, I’ve started to feel distinctly nauseous. And with each victim it’s getting worse.” Shaffer’s use of selection of detail, specifically diction, reveals that Dysart is beginning to feel uneasy about this ancient Greek ritual he is participating in. The use of the word “victim” is very specific and particular. Shaffer could’ve chosen to use a word like “child” or “patient”. The word “victim” implies that the children are being harmed and are suffering. The use of the word “nauseous” is also very specific. Shaffer could’ve used the word “uncomfortable” but “nauseous” implies that Dysart is beginning to feel physically ill. He is so bothered by what he is doing that he is inclined to vomit. The idea of Dysart inflicting pain on the children is unbearable to him. At this point in the dream, Dysart believes that his actions are hurting the children he is treating. Dysart continues stating, “I’ve started to feel distinctly nauseous. And with each victim, it’s getting worse. My face is going green behind the mask. Of course, I redouble my efforts to look professional - cutting and snipping for all I’m worth.” Shaffer uses juxtaposition to show the shift in Dysart’s emotions from earlier in the dream. Dysart has moved from being completely cynical and emotionless to being nauseous and uneasy. He is just trying to hold it together since he is the chief priest and knows that his colleagues look at him for guidance. Dysart has becomes much less confident in his job which is a complete shift from how he felt earlier in the
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