Monday, March 15, 2010
The Father's Shadow in Equus
After reading Equus I read another article for my midterm paper “The Father’s Shadow/Father’s Body” by David Morgan. In his introduction he states, “the need of a young boy to achieve a successful bond with the body of his father is a determining factor in whether the son is able to develop his own creative life, or must go through life in a state of passive creative frustration” (219). For my midterm paper I was interested in looking at Peter Pan and applying Freud’s theory to his condition. But I think this article really speaks to Alan and Frank in Equus. Alan is not able to have a close relationship with his father and therefore tries instead to bond with his father’s shadow. What I mean by that is Frank’s unconscious that he tries to repress. When Alan sees his father watching the same pornographic film as him Alan is able to connect to him, but on a level his father is not comfortable with. Just like Frank, Alan cannot perform sexually with a woman, he instead becomes embarrassed and feels as though he is being watched and judged. Morgan uses Freud’s Oedipus complex to explain why the son has a destructive perception of what it means to be a man. “The development of an inner creative life by a boy is blocked if he unconsciously bonds with his father’s shadow qualities. Such negative qualities include a distant father, or a father who violently abuses his son…As a result, he cannot accomplish anything truly creative of his own life—all he has is his father’s shadow” (Morgan 226). Alan seems to be struggling with his father’s shadow and cannot move on from there. He has the same urges and reactions as his father with sex. The stare in the play seems to be of guilt and embarrassment by both Frank and Alan. They both seem too worried about judgment brought out from their sexual urges and they both seem to be having a problem with performance. I think that Alan being able to tell Dysart what has happened to him becomes the point where he can separate himself from his father and be his own man. Frank is never able to come to terms with what he has done and what his son has seen, and so he cannot break from his own shadow.