The film, “The Elephant Man” is based on the life of John Merrick, who was the original elephant man. John had a rare disease that imprisoned him, he felt isolated because no one wanted to be associated with him. The movie honors Merrick for being courage to face the world, despite going through bad experiences of mistreatment. In the film, the director portrays the harsh reality of humans and how people with physical deformities are treated by the society.
David Lynch, the elephant man, describes Merrick as someone worthless in the initial stages of the film. The film portrayed him as a scary person because of his physical difference. Lynch presents John’s experiences in different places. For instance, the elephant man had sustained injuries from Bytes, his manager and wandered off making him become sick. He was suffering from bronchitis. Treves, a surgeon, admits him to the hospital and convinces the authorities to permit the man to stay in the hospital for a while.
Treves manages to convince the hospital management to allow the elephant man to stay in a room within the hospital. Treves discovered more about the man; he discovered that the man could talk and is well educated. His name was John Merrick and revealed that he had a strange disease since he was 14 years. John narrated to Treves that tumors grew all over his body, including his face and his hands. He was forced to sleep sitting up, or he risked dying from suffocation. Merrick lived in the hospital and was accepted by the hospital staff. Al the staffs treat him well, except for the night porter. The hospital night porter discovers that he could make money by gathering a crowd who pays to see his deformed body.
Merrick had earlier been exploited by Bytes until he was rescued by Fredrick Treves, a surgeon. Treves intention was to study Merrick condition. Treves took care of Merrick with much interest because of his research; Treves uses Merrick as a model when giving lectures on deformities. One night when the night porter displays Merrick, Bytes was among the people who came to view him. Bytes kidnapped Merrick taking him to France, putting him on displays as the elephant man for the local crowd.
Bytes’ son disagrees with his father’s action of humiliating a human being by making money using his s condition, but his father does not bother much about his son’s concerns. Bytes’ son with the help of other freaks released Merrick and assists him to escape to England. Treves welcomed Merrick, sheltering him at the hospital and introducing him to other people. Merrick had been to Brussels, where he became a liability due to his illness and was abandoned by Ross. The police contacted Treves, and Merrick was rescued. Treves continued treating Merrick humanly as compared to other people who kept on mistreating him because of his condition.
Like any other normal human being, Merrick wanted to live a normal life, however, when Treves introduced Merrick to the London society and introduces him to his wife, Treves wife hides her shock when he first saw Merrick. Treves convinced the actress, Mrs. Kendal who visits Merrick, telling him about her life in the theatres and gives him a copy of Shakespeare plays. Treves wanted to boost Merrick view of life despite his condition. Even though Merrick meets Mrs. Kendall’s friend, they seem to look at him more of an object and they all are fascinated by his looks. It is only Mrs. Kendal who uniquely understands Merrick.
Merrick decides to find something that keeps him occupied. He became religious and spent most of his time working on a model of St. Philips church. Having been close to Mrs. Kendal, Merrick reveals to her some of his inner thoughts; Merrick tells Kendall that he had never seen a woman’s body. Mrs. Kendal removed her clothes to let Merrick see her body. Treves did not like Mrs. Kendal‘s actions and barred her from seeing Merrick again.
When Merrick was united with Treves, he did not live for long .Merrick started living a normal life like going to the theatre with Treves and his wife, where Mrs. Kendal was performing and had dedicated the performance to Merrick. After watching the performance, Merrick thanked Treves for the evening and went to bed. He wanted to live and sleep like normal people by laying down like everyone else. When he finally sleeps, he dies in the process and is welcomed by his mother in heaven.
Being an ambitious surgeon Frederick Treves makes Merrick his experiment subject of his upcoming pathological presentation. Inspired by Merricks’ intelligence and friendliness, Fredrick makes arrangement to have Merrick live in a premise in the London hospital. It is more like Treves wanted to rescue Merrick from the world where people mistreated him because of his deformity. Merrick had been abused by his sideshow manager Byte. Nevertheless, Treves provided Merrick with comfort.
When the news about Merrick is published in a London Times, negatively describing Merrick, people received this news with mixed reactions. Some people wanted to befriend him while others saw him as a fascination. The person in charge of taking care of Merrick in the hospital decided to charge a fee for people to view him this give Byte the chance to kidnap Merrick taking him to Belgium as a sideshow freak. Merrick is assisted by other members of the freak show to escape back to London. Merrick is reunited with Treves. The pathological society celebrates Merrick, giving him the chance to live a life of a normal person when he tries to sleep like a normal person that day. However, laying down was dangerous because of his health condition, Merrick dies in the process.
Lynch portrayed Merrick as a unique person, especially after transforming from a project sideshow freak, used to please the crowd, to someone acceptable by society. The film departs from the normal way of portraying characters from being good to bad, and instead uses Merricks’ experience transformation. The fact that Merrick was a freak show, his experience was full of misery, the film portrayed him as a reasonable person who earns and could save money that was however stolen and is also intelligent. The film modifies the chronology of Merrick’s life, presenting suspense, making Merrick look like a helpless person that needs to be rescued. The film presents how other people can take advantage of other people’s problems for their benefit instead of helping them overcome their difficulties.