Love In The Elephant Mans Life Essay

, Research Paper


Love in The Elephant Mans Life

The novel The Elephant Man by Christine Sparks tells a melodramatic story of a man who s appearance is so startling, it prevents him from experiencing the essential love most people experience in life. John Merrick is robbed of his childhood when his mother abandons him. He is also degraded and disregarded as a human being when he is put on display as part of a freak show . As a result of Merrick s appearance and abandonment he lacks the sensation of maternal love but he experiences self love and the love of friendship when he meets Dr. Treves.

John Merrick never experiences the maternal love of a mother. Even though she abandons him, he forces his self to ignore the reality that she leaves him. He believes that for some reason they have been forced to part and this was a great puzzle to which he would return to again and again, for he knew his mother loved him and would not have willingly let him go . (117) Merrick is unable to experience the comfort of a mothers touch, instead he is forced to work like a slave in the work house and to be laughed at in the freak show . As a result Merrick becomes very intimidated by his owner(bytes) and refuses to speak. He tells Treves the reason for him not speaking is because no one asked him to. Merrick becomes attached to Mothershead in a way because she is almost like a mother. She takes care of him and gives him emotional support, but does not let him get away with everything he


wants. Merrick lacks the maternal love of his mother but he always believes that she is watching over him and that she will be there for him when it is time for them to be together. she had come for him at last. (278) Merrick s emotions are very unstable because he never experienced the affection of a women, especially a mother. Merrick is used to being treated as an animal so when a women such as Mothershead shows him that she cares he is very overwhelmed. Merrick has little self love for his self as a result of his past. He begins to believe what people tell when they call him ugly and dumb. He does not respect his self because he is convinced he does not deserve to be treated like a human being. When Dr. Treves first discovers Merrick he shows no respect for him, during his presentation in the lecture hall he is ready to indicate various parts of the specimen with a stick . (37) This type of disrespect leads Merrick to feel worthless. Because of Merrick s lack of love for his self he is very shy and intimidated. The intimidation allows bytes to do whatever he wants with him, including beating him. When Bytes is not satisfied with Merrick s performance he jabs his exhibit with a stick . (242) This type of treatment Merrick receives causes him to fell that he is not worth being loved by others nor his self. Treves knows that Merrick s appearance makes Merrick upset so he has all the mirrors in the rooms where he is staying removed. Merrick knew he was ugly even though he did not know what it meant (122) As a result of rude comments and violent treatment Merrick feels he does not deserve to feel love from others nor his self. Merrick is deprived of the love of friendship all of his life until he meets Treves. Throughout Merrick s life he is disrespected and made fun of. Treves remembers


how Merrick had obeyed Bytes shouted orders the day before. (29) Bytes has little respect for Merrick, he only wants to profit off of Johns misfortunes. Treves and the rest of the staff at the hospital become very fond of Merrick s well being. Merrick is not used to this kind of love and support he receives from them because no one has ever treated him this way. Merrick is kidnapped by Bytes and is beaten and becomes very ill. Bytes has Merrick perform in the circus to make money. All the other performers in the circus know he is hurting Merrick so they say we ve decided , he said calmly you ve got to get away from here. (248) The performers care about Merrick so much they risk getting caught by Bytes. They put all their money together so they can put him on a train home. Merrick finds it very difficult when people are kind to him. through his sobs Merrick managed to say huskily , I m not used to such kindness from a beautiful woman. (164) Because of Merrick’s experience of the love of friendship he feels his life is almost complete. I feel as if I ve traveled my whole life just to stand here . (272)

The love of friendship and the love of self can change a persons life dramatically. Maternal love is important in obtaining love of self. Merrick believes he is not worthy of the friendship because they may have trouble being honest or open with others. They may also become very jealous of other children who have experienced maternal love. As a result they may be without self love because they feel as if their mother does not love them or that there must be something wrong


with them. Merrick is very lucky to have a friend like Treves who accepts him as he is and he is also very lucky that he never looses faith in his mother. She had come for him at last . (278)


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