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Equus: A Tragedy On Every Way

947 words - 4 pages

In the eyes of many, Peter Shaffer?s ?Equus? can be viewed as a just a perverse, complicated story of a young, psychotic boy. Even so, this play is a tragedy. A tragedy is a literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin. Tragedies can be classified into two sub categories: Aristolian tragedies or ?common man? tragedies. ?Equus? takes on characteristics of both types of tragedies and while it seems to have more characteristics of an Aristolian tragedy, it still holds true to some characteristics of a tragedy of a common man.There are many significant points needed in which a literary work can be considered a tragedy in an Aristolian sense. Some of these points include having a superior protagonist with a complex and/or an inner conflict and a ?tragic flaw?. There has to be questions of moral order and deep suffering as well as a ?fortunate fall? of the main character. These are just a few of the characteristics needed to have a work considered an Aristolian tragedy. ?Equus? only has a few of these qualities. In the play there is a protagonist, Alan, even though he is not superior. Alan, has quite a bit of both complex and inner conflict. He is the product of a religious, lenient mother and an atheist, strict father. He has to deal with listening to his mother?s Bible stories as well as his father?s random comments. Alan is a seventeen-year-old male who is not very social and is not very educated in any way. What little he does know he has learned from his mother and the little television he watched at the neighbor?s house. The inner conflict that comes out of this is huge. Alan is a young man who knows virtually nothing about the ?real? world which causes him to have a very vivid imagination which leads to his downfall.But before Alan?s downfall can be discussed, his ?tragic flaw? must be taken into consideration. Alan?s ?tragic flaw? is his lack of knowledge. Because of his narrow upbringing, his interpretation of what is ethical and socially acceptable, his lack of experience, and his imagination Alan creates his own religion in which his god is a horse. Alan?s god, Equus, is compared to the Christian?s God and this questions moral order. It is not normal or right for someone to worship a horse. Even though Alan?s worship of the horse does question moral order, it is not really considered evil. It is just considered wrong and unusual. In an Aristolian tragedy the questions of moral order have to do with what is evil rather than what is wrong irregular. Alan does not have a ?fortunate downfall? in my opinion. He doesn?t die or anything of that sort. He does blind...

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