Eruption of the Submissive: A Study of Neurosis in Peter Shaffer’s Equus

Zohreh Taebi, Mahsa Sadat Razavi


Peter Shaffer’s drama Equus has long been the subject of scholarly research, much of which centers on the psychological aspects of the work. However, none has directed the focus to a Freudian tripartite model of mind. On this basis, and in order to fill the gap in the literature on the topic, this article takes it upon itself to focus its attention on the psychological aspects in Equus, and tries to deliver a more comprehensive notion of the psychological flaws inherent in Alan Strang’s character. Based on the Freudian model of the mind composed of id, ego, and superego, this article analyzes the play in order to uncover the clues of Alan’s instability and abnormal personality in committing a horrible crime of blinding six horses with a hoof pick. Moreover, this study attempts to explain the impact of other characters’ behavioral patterns on Alan, while applying the same model. Methodologically, this study is divided into two different sections: contrary to the critics’ ideas that have associated the horses with either superego or the id, hereby it is argued that the horses can represent both, since Alan has mutated his sexual drives into religious fervor; in addition, Alan’s personality crisis is explained in terms of lack of ego formation which prevents him from creating a balance between the sense of guilt injected by the superego and the pulsing desires of the id that ultimately results in the dreadful crime of blinding the six horses. Lastly, this study moves to a discussion of the relationships between individuals and society, and explores how individuals are forced to conform to certain standards of behavior, since the resulting homogeneity contributes to the maintenance of society and its values.


Equus; Ego; ID; Superego; Imbalance; Neurosis; Psychodrama

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