Equus Metaphors and Similes

Dysart's Dream

Dysart's dream of being a Homeric priest in Greece and sacrificing children is a metaphor for his dissatisfaction and doubts about the morality of his career. Dysart feels that as a psychiatrist, he is doing exactly this: sacrificing children's individuality and passions to further his own work. He is uncertain whether the therapy he performs is truly for his clients' benefit.

"I'm wearing the horse's head myself. That's the feeling."

In the introduction of the play, Dysart compares himself to the horse through a startling metaphor of wearing the horse's head, feeling the constraints of its chains and its bit. He feels the same uncertainty of moving forward with blinders, staring straight ahead at his professional path but not truly knowing what is around him. 

"Horse and rider shall become one beast."

This is a strong metaphor for the connection between horse and rider that is unlike any other connection; it is almost as if they share one body, at once a sexual and religious reference. Alan has this experience every time he takes Nugget out of the stables for a midnight ride. He removes Nugget's chains and his own clothes, and the two metaphorically become one beast, just as this quote states.  Copulation is also represented by Alan sexually climaxing during these rides.

"He lives one hour every three weeks—howling in a mist."

Physically, Alan obviously lives more than one hour every week—however, the only time he is truly alive is when he mounts Nugget and rides him through the fields near the stables, completely free for the first time in his life. Dysart uses this metaphor to emphasize how drastic it would be to make Alan normal and take his worship away from him, since he does not have anything else to live for. 

"White eyes—never closed! Eyes like flames!"

Just before he blinds the horses, Alan compares Equus's eyes to flames, emphasizing the way they pierce into him and the way they are all-powerful, consuming his entire existence, seeing everything he does. Just like flames, the eyes of his god are inescapable; in a desperate attempt to get away, Alan tries to remove the horses eyes; but, in the end, he has not truly succeeded in blinding his god.