Infinite factors influence a person's perspective in regard to any issue. Texts are by no means immune to such reinterpretation. An array of meanings can be uncovered in a text as a result of different values. Peter Shaffer's Equus was composed to express the values of the composer, namely, that of the issue of conformity. A responder from different circumstances, though, can readily value other things conveyed in the text, dependant on what is important in their lives. A feminist would focus on the importance of women in the text. A Marxist would instead analyse the faults of the capitalist society in which this text is set so as to reflect, and further develop, their own values.
The text revolves around Dysart, a psychiatrist, experiencing a period of absolute disillusionment with society, and his place in it. This reflection is spurred on by a patient he must treat, Alan. Alan, a youth, is in the care of the psychiatric hospital because of the hideous crime he committed - the blinding of six horses.
The text was published in 1973, a time of immense social upheaval, and thus, change. Libertarian views were re-emerging as a result of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movements in the US. The composer clearly values views characteristic of this time. The text questions the morality of society, a practice common within the reactionary movement of the 1970s. .
The text broadly addresses the issue of conformity. It mainly uses religion as an example of people's rely ness to conform to society. It mocks religion, belittling it with the story of Alan who so easily worships a horse in absence of a biblical figure. The text also questions the concept of "normality". The composer clearly values the need for internal social change in order to, at least, attempt to fight the ultimately pointless and furthermore, damaging life, that people of contemporary society so readily accept.
Evident in this text is Existentialist philosophy.