As the sad and unique story of John Merrick, “the elephant man,'; unfolds, all are taught a lesson about strength and courage.
When Sir Frederick Treeves first discovered John Merrick in 1884, he could only be described as, “a huddled mass of loneliness';(14).
The Elephant Man forces me to question this position on two grounds: first, on the meaning of Merrick's life, and second, on the ways in which the film employs it.
It is conventional to say that Merrick, so hideously misformed that he was exhibited as a sideshow attraction, was courageous. But there is a distinction here that needs to be drawn, between the courage of a man who chooses to face hardship for a good purpose, and the courage of a man who is simply doing the best he can, under the circumstances.
When Treeves first viewed the “elephant man,'; he states: The showman pulled back the curtain and revealed a bent figure crouching on a stool and covered by a brown blanket.
In front of it, on a tripod, was a large brick heated by a Bunsen burner. this hunched-up figure was the embodiment of loneliness (47).
The Elephant Man John Merrick, a man so pathetic and helpless because of the curse of his extremely disfigured body he carries around with him.
Lots of people are born with some deformity or another, but none such as the case of John Merrick, in other words, ‘The Elephant Man’ who was given this name because he was so deformed he resembled an extremely ugly elephant.
How, for example, did he learn to speak so well and eloquently?
History tells us that the real Merrick's jaw was so misshapen that an operation was necessary just to allow him to talk.