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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oedipus and Equus

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Sophocles’s “Oedipus Rex” and Shaffer’s “Equus,” both share similar elements that show how the characters own free will, brought about their pain and suffering. Both plays share elements such as the physical blinding, the character’s choice of life, and the search for truth. In “Equus,” the idea of what is normal is explored where the capacity for worship, passion, and pain is lost in modern society. It dramatizes a child breaking free from restrictions placed by society and establishing his individuality and freedom.


Both plays use the movement of the past to discover the truth and in “Equus,” the understanding of the character.


“Oedipus Rex” like “Equus,” is a detective story. Oedipus throughout the entire play searches for the criminal that killed King Laius. In the same way, Dysart, a child psychiatrist, is in search for why his patient, Alan, has stabbed the eyes of six horses. In “Equus” the story of the crime is revealed little by little, unlike Oedipus where we know the truth from the beginning.


Both Oedipus and Alan choose their own way of life. Oedipus knowing that his fate was to someday kill his father and marry his mother, decides to leave Corinth; not knowing that Polybus was not his real father. In his travels, he gets caught up in a violent argument and kills one of his attackers. He remains oblivious to the tragic irony, that he has slain Laius, his true father. In Thebes, Oedipus solved the riddle of the sphinx and becomes king. Alan unlike Oedipus does not leave his parents completely but he leaves what his parents believe and establishes his own religion. He takes what his mother taught him about religion and instead of Jesus being his savior, it is Equus.


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