Read The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance Online


"The Elephant Man" is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century. A horribly deformed young man, who has been a freak attraction in traveling side shows, is found abandoned and helpless and is admitted for observation to Whitechapel, a prestigious London hospital. Under the care of a famous young doctor, who educ"The Elephant Man" is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century. A horribly deformed young man, who has been a freak attraction in traveling side shows, is found abandoned and helpless and is admitted for observation to Whitechapel, a prestigious London hospital. Under the care of a famous young doctor, who educates him and introduces him to London society, Merrick changes from a sensational object of pity to the urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati. But his belief that he can become a man like any other is a dream never to be realized....

Title : The Elephant Man
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780802130419
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 72 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Elephant Man Reviews

  • Carol
    2019-05-15 20:50

    Set in Victorian London, THE ELEPHANT MAN is based on the true story of John Merrick. (real name Joseph Carey Merrick)As a horribly disfigured young man, John lived most of his incredibly short life of 28 years as a freak attraction at traveling side-shows until he came to the attention of Frederick Treves, a surgeon at London Hospital, who thankfully took him under his wing giving him an education, an introduction to society and a place to call home.Reading this sad play, learning how John spent his days, why he couldn't lay down or speak clearly led me to do a bit of research on John's life that brought to light discrepancies in the play, but made for a memorable and touching read.John was a kind and intelligent man who only wanted to be like every other man.

  • Laura Leaney
    2019-05-12 12:28

    Because I couldn't find a way to steal away from work to go see Bradley Cooper act in this play, I bought a copy to read in the hopes I could just imagine how he might translate the role of Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man whose undiagnosed medical condition disfigured his face and body so horribly. I am left still feeling the need to see it on the stage. This short, spare script moves rapidly through twenty-one scenes. Some of the scenes are less than two typed pages. As a result, reading the script probably offers less depth than a live performance where the actors' movements and expressions might deepen the words. Nevertheless, I found the play very moving. The surgeon, Frederick Treves, parallels Merrick in importance. The dynamic between them reminds me of the psychiatrist-patient relationship of Shaffer's fascinating play Equus. By examining Merrick and controlling his environment while he lives out his days at The London Hospital, Treves's own failures become apparent. My favorite part is Scene XII, called "Who Does He Remind You of?" In this scene, the cream of London society speaks short lines about who Merrick reminds them of. All the lines end in "like me." The famous actress Mrs. Kendal says, "Well. He is gentle, almost feminine. Cheerful, honest within limits, a serious artist in his way. He is almost like me." The Duchess says, "I can speak with him of anything. For I know he is discreet. Like me." They see in Merrick what they want to see. Treves later says: "Yet he makes all of us think he is deeply like ourselves. And yet we're not like each other. I conclude that we have polished him like a mirror, and shout hallelujah when he reflects us to the inch. I have grown sorry for it."The sad thing about this play is that I still know next to nothing about Merrick, the human being. Still, there is enormous importance in the revelations regarding society's reaction to disfigurement. In the last scene of the play, the administrator for The London Hospital is reading his report to the investors about the death of Merrick. When he asks Treves if he's forgotten anything, Treves says, "Well. He was highly intelligent. He had an acute sensibility; and worst for him, a romantic imagination. No, no. Never mind. I am really not certain of any of it." He exits, then comes back to say, "I did think of one small thing" and the administrator tells him "it's too late." What, I asked myself, is the "small thing"? I think it was to say that he was a man.

  • Shlomo Touhis
    2019-05-11 13:39

    The Elephant Man was a moving play which featured a young man going through a problem that no one could understand. He faces a disease that leaves his body disfigured and his face -- beyond hideous. This true story captures the love in which he receives -- the love that he never thought would come to him -- once he is taken under the treatment of a young doctor. While i read The Elephant Man, I tried to picture myself in his un-adored shoes, as i thought it would be nearly impossible. Though, as this is a common classic in writing, I found Bernard Pomerance's literature not at all difficult to understand. He was able to let the reader slip into the life of John Merrick (The Elephant Man) and have the reader believe that they were visiting him themselves. I certainly felt as if this were the case. For, as I allowed myself to sink into the book, I was found myself quite discontented at his hard life. I found myself asking, "how could someone allow a mere 21 year-old man go through anything as horrifically depressing as this?" As I am at an age where I understand more clearly why many people in this world have to take pills and go through serious mental issues due to depression, I see this as a beyond serious case. Throughout the piece, one is left begging for the John Merrick to experience the best of a life, for as his condition might depress him, it also has the potential to kill him. In fact, the reader KNOWS that John Merrick will die, and it is basically guaranteed. It is truly a tragedy, regarding the poor life of this innocent man. One is left to really embrace the fact that we are lucky to have not gone through what John Merrick himself had endured. After I read the book, I was left with a sort of empty feeling, gnawing at me. I took this feeling as curiosity, and went on to immediately research the case of John Merrick. This indeed was based on a purely true story, and after seeing the movie as well, I am left adorned by The Elephant Man.

  • Suvi
    2019-05-18 19:57

    Before my last year's trip to London, I somehow failed to check the theater schedule, and on a bus tour I had an incredible sinking feeling when I spotted the theater with The Elephant Man sign. That feeling worsened when after the tour I checked the show dates at a ticket booth and noticed the play had closed just on the previous day. The most interesting story in the whole world, one that I've been obsessed about for years, and just a few months before I was disappointed I couldn't see Pomerance's play on Broadway, where it got rave reviews. As an effort to console myself and because the next best thing is to read the play, I loaned it from"[T]he most disgusting specimen of humanity". "[A] perverted object". These are the words Frederick Treves used to describe Joseph Merrick (sometimes mistakenly named as John), one of the most famous figures of the Victorian era, in The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences (1923). Showing symptoms at a young age, Merrick ended up severely deformed, and had to sleep sitting up to make sure he wouldn't die because of the weight of his head. His deformities also prevented him from working in regular jobs, and after a few years in the workhouse he decided to try his luck in a travelling sideshow. It was when he ended up in London on display at a Whitechapel shop that he first met Frederick Treves. After an unsuccessful stint in Brussels, Merrick returned to London and was eventually allowed to stay at the London Hospital for the remainder of his life.Fiction about real people is in many ways problematic. As in David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980) (whose production company ended up being sued because of the similar plot to Pomerance's play), Pomerance's The Elephant Man shows Merrick as the victim of patronizing Treves, and as the center of attention of his high society acquaintances who lavish him with gifts, but don't seem to be interested in him as a person. They all see something of themselves in Merrick, making him a blank canvas where others can project their fears and desires.It's troubling, because victimizing Merrick more than is necessary turns him into a mere object of pity. It might make it easier to explore the themes associated with his life story, but it's a questionable strategy. In Pomerance's retelling, Merrick is physically abused in Brussels, although despite his reluctance of speaking about his years in the freak show, there's no reason to presume there was any misconduct. According to the newest research, Treves embellished some aspects in his memoir (he didn't realize the freak show was Merrick's way of earning a living), but unless evidence to the contrary is found, I'd rather see Merrick being remembered as a sensitive theatre-loving young man, who spent time reading books and constructing models of buildings. He did have difficulties, but he tried his best to survive. If one tries to forget the discrepancies and unfortunate interpretations of Merrick's character, Pomerance's play is absolutely an interesting piece of fringe theatre. With only 21 short scenes (including a striking dream sequence), it offers a different perspective to Merrick's story. He was under good care until his untimely death at the age of 27, but Pomerance challenges to think about the notion of being on display. How many donators and high society members actually cared about Merrick as a human being instead of as a charity case? Was Treves a real friend, or just someone who considered him as an interesting medical anomaly, and who tried to change him into something more normal?TREVES: Have we nothing to say, John?MERRICK: If all that'd stared at me'd been sacked - there'd be whole towns out of work.TREVES: I meant, "Thank you, sir."MERRICK: "Thank you, sir."TREVES: We always do say please and thank you, don't we?MERRICK: Yes, sir. Thank you.TREVES: If we want to properly be like others.

  • Lady Day
    2019-05-15 19:44

    The Elephant Man is based on a powerful tale about Joseph Carey Merrick, with the help of a famous surgeon John regains his dignity after years of being a side-show freak. Although I have not read this play by Bernard Pomerance I had the pleasure of seeing this rendition at a local theatrical playhouse. A true story about being different, seeing beauty within people and finding happiness when everything around is grim. Heartwrenching!

  • Catherine Limbsombe
    2019-04-25 12:55

    The play I read from "The Burns Mantle Theatre Yearbook the Best Plays of 1978-1979" is only a few pages in length. The best line of the entire play, "...'Sometimes I think my head is so big because it is so full of dreams.' When dreams can't get out, he believes, something strange must happen." -MerrickAh, the Elephant Man exists in a morally exalted state of contemplation, pain, and reverie. Throughout the play you will find the character philosophizing and engaging in thoughtful conversations with those around him. As he questions the justice of man's habits and actions, he "drops flare" on societies warped and accepted modes & customs. The dialogue is terse and tethers the reader to The Elephant Man's nature, his huge heart & sensitivities, for example, making the idea of a benevolent God seem natural & possible despite illusions of the contrary.i

  • Marcos
    2019-04-30 20:47

    I would love to see this live. John Merrick's story is one of heartbreak with the longing to connect.

  • Wayne Jarman
    2019-05-14 20:42

    This is a great script that leads to a very powerful production on-stage. Having worked with the script (playing the character of Frederick Treves), I found that the language and stage direction easily led to the development of the character - as well as to a finished play that affected the audience and transmitted the messages of the play to the audience.To those readers who enjoy reading scripts, I highly recommend this one. However, the treatment of a small section of the spoken text took me a couple of reads. For example:John Merrick (The Elephant Man) speaks "First chance I had to bathe regular. Ly." Initially, I thought the script must have been scanned because this looked like an Optical Character Recognition problem. However, I soon realised that what the writer meant to explain was what I would write as "First chance I had to bathe regular" - emphasising Merrick's speech impediment.If you are not a reader of scripts, I highly recommend the viewing of a Production of The Elephant Man as soon as the opportunity arises. A good production will prove very rewarding.

  • Majid
    2019-05-14 14:54

    Moving, heartbreaking, inspirational and a lovely, lovely read! Beautifully written as well. I have never been so engaged with a script as much as I was with The Elephant Man. This story is about Joseph Merrick, an individual with hideous deformities who's been dubbed by his 'owner' Freddie Jones, a freak show organizer that dehumanizes and uses Merrick merely as a source of income. Merrick gets rescued by Dr. Frederick Treves, a surgeon who helps him escape the freak show and Jones. This story portrays the darker side of humanity and how human oddities were dealt with, and how looking past physical appearances enables us to realize the beauty deep within each and every individual's soul, no matter how 'odd' they were. I must say, I had to hold my tears back during some parts; it's been such a tough story to digest, but definitely a lovely one that I will re-read!

  • freckledbibliophile
    2019-05-23 14:36

    Just as enjoyable as the movie! Sad story. 4.5 stars

  • Travis Hutch Belushi
    2019-05-13 19:39

    John Merrick a courageous, strong and beautiful human being. A short sad life. Brilliant read, page turner, started and finished all in my lunch break. Keen to see the play now.

  • Laura
    2019-05-06 15:54

    Available at BBC Radio 7. A seriously disfigured man is rescued from a Victorian freak show.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-22 18:34

    Bettie's Books

  • Craig Nixon
    2019-05-07 13:38

    I remember seeing this movie as a kid when my family were able to afford premium channels on cable. In it, John Merrick, played by John Hurt, depicted a man whose disfigured looks made him a pariah in English society, so much so that he ends up working as a local side-show freak. After a doctor notices him, he decides to try and help Merrick live out the rest of his short life in as much comfort as possible. The audience rarely sees the Elephant Man during the movie, but when we do, it conjures an ocean of compassion for this seemingly gentle man. The famous ending where John yells out "I am not an animal, I am a man" solidifies David Lynch's movie as a masterpiece.This play, a quick read of just over 100 pages, has little of that emotion and characterization. The short scenes barely hint at Merrick's life of discomfort and disease, and by the time he dies, we the readers are left wanting more, more background, more dialogue, more profundity. Even after he sees a woman naked for the first time, his comments and the scene in general seem rushed and lacking the pathos it could have had.Overall, an okay play that almost forces the reader to go and rent the movie once again. Now that I can afford it.

  • R.W. Kennedy
    2019-04-30 16:37

    Is reading a play cheating for the reading challenge? Yeah, well sue me. The David Lynch cinematic adaptation of this play is great but the play shows us the "deformities" of others, not just the grotesque John Merrick. It must be read carefully and is totally worth a reread. I'd be willing to see a production of this, especially since I have always been fascinated by stories of outcasts and freaks.

  • Paul LaFontaine
    2019-04-24 19:32

    A disfigured English man from the late 1800's is sheltered by a doctor who discovers him trying to make money as a freak show attraction. Society embraces him and he becomes a chance for people to reflect on their own lives. A short play on a fairly well-known topic, I liked the insights that people derived from the interaction with the protagonist. The issue of how and who "views" the oddity runs throughout and makes for a thoughtful experience. Recommend

  • Noah
    2019-04-23 15:30

    An enjoyable read with some scorching lines. The pacing was awkward and a bit unclear with Merrick's life in the hospital. The idea that the hospital's sanitizing of Merrick didn't allow him the authentic human experience was saddening. Merrick was so hopeful at the beginning of his stay too, with his ideas about Romeo and Juliet and his naïvete. It's a quick read.

  • Nat
    2019-04-30 16:39

    (Read when Ryan visited), easy to read play that still sparked many questions. The characters were distinctive, while working collectively to unfold the story of a man ostracized dude to ridiculous societal expectations of beauty.

  • Krissy
    2019-05-24 17:40


  • Christopher M Struck
    2019-05-14 18:49

    Quite introspective. Interesting how things came together in the end for a once forgotten individual.

  • Selva Ramanathan
    2019-04-28 17:49

    Based on the true story of Joseph Merrick, who wanted to be just like every other man -a very poignant play that I would really like to see one day in person!

  • Realini
    2019-04-26 17:56

    The Elephant Man by Bernard PomeranceA very touching and sad story that was adapted for the big screen- the acclaimed Elephant Man, with Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt, in a movie nominated for 8 Oscars.In Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell there are many arguments in favor of the theory of “thin slicing”- ergo we have the “Power of Thinking without thinking.”In just a few seconds, we are able to make an opinion about someone, or something- that tends to be the same one that we form after six months.There is much more to that and I will limit myself to just one example: the CEOs of the top 500 Fortune companies are very, very tall in a proportion of about 30%, as opposed to their number in the general population which just about 2 % of very tall people in the population.- What would you say about the Elephant Man if you saw him?We are fascinated with what is different and I know that I tend to observe the guy with the Dow Syndrome that comes at the same pool where I go.In the case of the Elephant Man, most people were horrified.There is one instance when a nurse who had been to Africa and saw natives sick with and deformed by leper cannot help herself:- Oh my God! – She keeps shouting.In the first place, we meet the Elephant Man when he is the weird attraction for a kind of circus where visitors pay to see John Merrick, which is the name of the poor man.John Merrick suffers from a condition that makes his life miserable and his body deformed.Frederick Treves is the doctor that takes the Elephant man from the street and the captivity and slavish condition to which he had been reduced.With the means of the late 19th century there isn’t much that can be done for him, but sensitivity, gentleness go a long way to soothing his condition.John Merrick turns out to be a highly intelligent man, which may be a kind of adaptation- when most of the skills of the body are gone, the mind may try to adapt and survive.He reads many books and even discusses Romeo and Juliet:- Romeo does not love Juliet- Why do you say that?- Because he does not insist when he finds her and thinks her dead- He tries the mirror…- If he really loved her, Romeo would have called a doctor; some help and check her pulse…- Perhaps he did not know…- Romeo is very interested in himselfThere are other very interesting dialogues and John Merrick proves to be a very sensitive, warm and extraordinary young man.At that time, there were terrible discriminations against people with handicaps, which we call today challenges.Challenged people were beaten, laughed at and exploited for various purposes- cheap, cruel and awful entertainment and money making.Even today, people with a missing limb are taken out on the street and used for begging in some places, even in my town.Fortunately, John Merrick finds a woman – Mrs. Kendal- with a good heart and ready to offer him some solace and kindness in a life that had been- alas, deprived of affection.Mrs. Kendal even undresses when the Elephant Man expresses a desire to see a woman naked- he had never seen one before…A very touching and sad story that was adapted for the big screen- the acclaimed Elephant Man, with Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt, in a movie nominated for 8 Oscars.

  • Laila Doncaster
    2019-05-07 13:49

    Bernard Pomerance offers us the finest lesson in life with The Elephant Man; a lesson in humanity, kindness, unconditional love and understanding, for those who are willing to understand the lesson. For those of us who are without disability, we must learn compassion and be sensitive of those who suffer. That is the lesson, for without it, we are empty souls without substance. A must read, that will forever hold a special place on my heart's mantel of worthy reads.

  • Jonah Levine
    2019-04-27 18:45

    I am having a hard time rationalizing this play. The story is intriguing, no doubt, but the play really questions Merrick's life by presenting it in such an abstract way. Pomerance's work consists of around 20 short, choppy scenes depicting The Elephant Man's journey from sideshow squalor to hospital patient to friend of the rich and famous to utterly alone. From the first few scenes, showing Treves and Gomm, Ross running his freak show at Merrick's expense, Merrick's stint with the Pins at a carnival, I saw that the play was not going anywhere. At that point, it seemed that they entire show would consist of quick glimpses at Merrick's life with no real connection. In fact, this remained the case until Mrs. Kendal is introduced. Only at this point do we see Merrick's true intelligence and thoughts on life, the redeeming factor of the show. The way he provides a fresh look on religion, Romeo and Juliet, and companionship is a nod to Pomerance's skillful writing. That being said, it was all second fiddle to Treve's qualms. Just as John Merrick was getting his own story, Treves become the (seemingly) main character. His own struggles with charity and dealing with Merrick steal the focus from Merrick. The play seemed to show that The Elephant Man, throughout his entire life, was simply in the background, helping others realize their own problems. An interesting story, and a chilling presentation that definitely dramatizes Merrick's struggle for understanding through a beautifully developed metaphor and other characters that can only put up a ruse of control.

  • Victoria
    2019-05-13 16:46

    My brother will be studying this book for Grade 8 literature next year. Curious to know why this play was chosen, I read the blurb and was instantly hooked. I read this play in one sitting, now I am stunned, in awe and do not know what to make of the story. It seems to be about religion, ethics and inequality that exists in the Victorian society but still relevant on many levels in our modern world. At least, that's what I have made of it at this point. I wonder what my brother and the other boys in his year group will make of this book. The general premise seems easily understandable for their level of maturity but I wonder what they will think of the wider themes of the darker side of human nature present in this book. Things like cruelty, pity and condescension. Maybe they will brush pass these more discomforting matters...At this point rating the book is nearly impossible for me, so much conflicting views that I am experiencing! Hmm it was easily readable and intriguing so I'll give this 3.5 stars!

  • Willow Redd
    2019-04-27 14:50

    Last year, I finally watched the David Lynch film; and as I did with a few other movies last year, thought I would also read the book. However, then I learned that the play had no connection with Lynch's film other than the subject matter, so I put it off. Of course, since the play and the film are based on a real person, the structures of both are similar enough that I could have followed up one with the other... Hindsight.I've actually been sitting on this book for a while, having picked it up from a friend while we were both taking part in a yard sale. It was this and another book of screenplays that I traded him for a DVD box set. Felt like a fair trade.It's interesting seeing the differences in interpretation between Pomerance and Lynch. I'll eventually read the actual published history that Treves wrote (along with Montagu's book, both mentioned in the play's introductory note) which inspired Pomerance to write this play.

  • Mark
    2019-04-23 20:46

    This was an award winning play which became an acclaimed movie, but other than certain scenes which were particularly affecting, it left me wanting more. The play revolves around the true-life story of Joseph Merrick, who was severely deformed in face and body by Proteus syndrome. The author's purpose was obviously to delve into the moral effects of Merrick's journey from sideshow exhibit to permanent inhabitant of a London hospital, where he became a friend of high society and royalty under the guardianship of a doctor there.On the one hand, Pomerance did a superb job of sketching many of the difficult issues -- e.g., had Merrick been saved from a degrading life or simply traded one form of it for another more genteel one? -- in a short space, with a limited cast. But because the play was constructed as a series of snapshots -- chronological, but not narrative -- it seemed like a strobe light story to me.

  • Elcira
    2019-05-01 19:47

    Based on the story of 19th century Englishman, Joseph Merrick, who was afflicted with a disfiguring congenital disease, this book does an excellent job at portraying human nature. We are fast to discard anything that doesn't appeal to our sense of beauty and what beauty should be. Our main character is noble and intelligent but treated like and oddity, a subhuman even as he makes his living (if you can call it that) as a side freak show character until rescued by a surgeon who gives him a shot at gaining back his dignity and attempting to live like a human being.We discover that if able to move pass his physical appearance, we'll find a man of great intelligence and sensitivity. A man capable of inspiring the deepest, most tender feelings...including love. Great lesson learned!

  • David Ward
    2019-05-04 16:43

    The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance (Grove Press 1979) (612.0). This is a play based upon the life of John Merrick, the original “Elephant Man” who was so named for a repulsive skin condition from which he suffered. Horribly deformed, Merrick lived in Victorian London, England and was exhibited at a young age in circus sideshows. He was rescued by a physician who took over his care. Merrick, who was a kind and gentle soul, eventually found a home inside a hospital. He came to meet many members of royalty and society before an early death. This is a very moving play and a heart-rending story. My rating: 7/10, finished 1982.

  • Yaaresse
    2019-05-04 19:37

    Standard "I read this, but damned if I can remember exactly when or why or enough about it to make detail comments" disclaimer: My rating is based solely on my memory of how much or little I enjoyed the book at that time. In some cases, "at that time" might mean before most Goodreads users were born. Then again, it could mean a couple years ago and that I have a lousy memory. Your mileage may vary. Heck, given how all our tastes change over the years and the fickle nature of memory, my own mileage might vary if I re-read it today.