Peter Shaffer's reputation as a playwright rests heavily on those works that have at the core an intense, sometimes ambiguous, relationship between two men. His most famous plays in that realm are Amadeus, Equus, and The Royal Hunt of the Sun. The same pattern is true of his one-act plays The Private Ear and White Lies, The White Liars and White Liars, the last of which Shaffer calls the definitive version and is published in his Collected Plays. The five plays under consideration in this study are Five Finger Exercise, Black Comedy, The Private Ear, Amadeus, and Equus. They represent the range of Shaffer's dramaturgy from his earliest attempt at writing for the stage to his most mature efforts and include both one-act and full-length plays. Their protagonists are men who demonstrate the characteristics of sensitivity, ambiguity, vindictiveness, and envy—traits perhaps too often and unfairly ascribed more often than not to women.



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