Rescuers From Within
Typical archetypes can span works of literature and remain instantly recognizable because of their inherent qualities. However, when dealing with ambiguous novels such as Peter Shaffer's Equus and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, these distinctions between good and evil blur and the archetypical hero no longer exists. The characters do have their respective counterparts, and form a sort of link between them with their resemblances. The fundamental thematic similarities in these two books correspond to the basic similarities that each pair of characters exhibits. Likewise, any thematic differences can be traced to a correspondence of fundamental differences in these characters. The role of Marlow as the rescuer of Kurtz from the abyss of humanity's darkness parallels the function of Dysart as the savior of Alan from the darkness of the human psyche.
The functional similarities that Equus's Dr Martin Dysart and Heart of Darkness's Charles Marlow exhibit range much further than the obvious interpretations.
However, by examining the more elementary resemblances, character motivation becomes more obvious and new similarities emerge. The first drawn parallels show both Marlow and Dysart to be rescuers of sorts. These rescuers are telling the story of their plunge into the darkest recesses of their respective worlds to try and pull out this abominable soul that had been twisted until socially unacceptable. Marlow's journey up the Congo River to retrieve Kurtz from the 'heart of darkness' exposes him to the true capability of a man's soul to do evil.
"The earth for us is a place to live in, where we must put up with sights,
with sounds, with smells too, by Jove! - breathe dead hippo, so to speak,
and not be contaminated." (Conrad, 83)
This self-restraint that Marlow values so highly is what allows him to walk to the edge...