Martin Dysart, in the play Equus, is a child psychiatrist who tries to heal Alan after he commits the barbaric act of blinding six horses. He is depicted in the play as an ordinary person who has fantasies of leaving his office and heading to Greece, where he dreams that his life would be exciting. His encounter with Alan, the seemingly disturbed seventeen year old boy, leaves him envying the boys love for life, and wishes that he had the courage to face the kind of spirit his case, Alan, had.
His position to Alan can, therefore, be claimed to have triggered his thoughts on love and makes him understand what is lacking in his life. He is left wondering, whether curing the boy would kill the boy’s spirit. He has left questioning whether Alan is really disturbed or he is just a boy with a lot of enthusiasm whose life is not restricted by the society’s interpretation of what is fixed or abnormal. Although he helps develop the play’s main theme of religion and fire, the psychiatrist has trouble with his profession. He wonders whether by trying to help his patients conform to the society’s norm, he does more harm than good. Martin is one of the essential characters in the play who enables the Shaffer to develop the story line.
Although his character is crucial in that it helps readers understand the main characters unseeingly act, we can argue that he is not the lead character, since his position is that of helping the readers understand the acts that make up the story. Martin is different from the main character in the book, since he is perceived by the society as a normal character. We can argue that he is a mainstay in the community, since his services are seen as beneficial to the society. This is because his career allows him to help those considered deviant in the society conform to what the community perceives to be normal. The author uses Martin’s resolve to aid the audiences realize what the community perceives to be normal, and in the process enables the community judge Alan.
Martin and Alan share complex characteristics in the play. This is because, after Alan opens up to him, he understands what has driven the boy to commit the act that the rest of the society sees as disturbing or horrific. Indeed, as mentioned earlier, the psychiatrist ends up wondering whether to fix the boy or let him keep his spirit. This means that, in the end, he considers the boy to be normal, despite his actions, which the rest of the society perceives to be abnormal. He is, however, novel from Alan in that his passions are bottled up inside and are only expressed in his fantasies.
The other similarity between Martin and Alan is their desire to express their spirit. Although Martin does not act on his passion, the craving for an erotic life is expressed in his fantasies. Unlike the other members of their society, Martin strives for understanding the reasons behind Alan’s disturbing acts. He does not, therefore, arbitrarily judge Alan, but seeks to understand the motives of his acts. Shaffer, therefore, expresses to his audiences the complexity of Martin’s character in a similar manner to that of Alan.