The Elephant Man
Moreover, he defined several groups that can be affected by the process of stigmatization. One of the groups included people with various deformities and anomalies that were often called abominations of the body. The play “The Elephant Man” by Bernard Pomerance is a bright example of the impact of the society on the personality. We see the main character Joseph Merrick who suffers a lot from the harsh attitude of the society. The main reason of such attitude was his ugly appearance and proteus syndrome that caused overgrowth of the bone and all the deformities and anomalies of his body.
From the early beginning Merrick was never treated as a real human. He was considered to be a creature, animal and beast. Merrick used to be a constant object for laughter and humiliation. Society avoids “freaks” and people who seem to be strange or ugly and simply different from them. Moreover, many people think that if a person is somehow disabled physically he is also mentally disabled. Such people are often labeled as freaks or second-rate people. Certain disabilities and anomalies cause social humiliation and constant reason for the stigmatization. In this play by Bernard Pomerance we see how Dr.
Treves tries to help Merrick overcome stigmatization and accept himself as a real human who can have normal life and enjoy little things as understanding, care, attention and simply spending time outdoors, in the nature or visiting cultural places as theatre and others. We see how difficult it is for Merrick to cope with the impulses and feelings of the society that depict their negative attitude and disgust to him. Even when Merrick finds his home he is still often hurt by the reaction of some nurses or visitors who are frightened of him or who consider him to be an object of amusement.
However, Merrick is a very compassionate and smart person and he never gets angry, he simply understands the attitude of the society. Moreover, he never tries to fight for his human rights. He accepts things and events the way they are. The main problem of this play is that Merrick can’t love himself and consider himself to be a human being. The attitude of the crowd and their harsh feelings substitute the true feelings of Merrick. However, Dr. Treves helps Merrick to believe in himself and live his life full of little happy things as every human being should do in spite of the harsh reality and many obstacles.