Religion and Five Contemporary Plays: The Quest for God in a Godless World

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Author: John M. Clum
Editors: Dedria Bryfonski and Laurie Lanzen Harris
Date: 1980
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 900 words

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Peter Shaffer's Equus [is] a play about the creation of a Dionysian religion in a highly rational world, a passionate worship that also reflects the Christian world's inability to integrate sexuality and religion. Equus is one of a number of plays by major contemporary playwrights that deal with the place of religion in a seemingly godless world. (p. 418)

Peter Shaffer has been, in his major work, ... fascinated with the impulse toward faith. For him the adversary of the man of faith is not a cosmic void or universal chaos; it is rationality. For Shaffer, it is the cold, clinical, empirical man without faith who has created an orderly, materialistic world that has robbed man of those irrational qualities that can make life an intense experience. Shaffer is not as concerned with the eternal design as he is with the individual who has become a diminished thing. In his play, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Shaffer pitted an historic conqueror of the New World, able to sail across uncharted seas, scale the loftiest mountains, and reduce a wealthy, glorious Inca culture to slavery, against an Inca prince who passionately, if irrationally, believes he is born of the gods of the sun. (p. 427)

What fascinated Shaffer in The Royal Hunt of the Sun is the sense that the dark Christian world offers man...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1100003192