Themes: Joseph Merrick and Elephant Man

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  • Topic: Joseph Merrick, Blindness, Sir Frederick Treves, 1st Baronet
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  • Published : April 24, 2012
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Breaking through the Blindness: A Fight for Freedom
The three short stories we read, The Elephant in the Village of Blind, 20/20, and The Cathedral, all have many common themes with the movie The Elephant man. What intrigues me the most is the hidden underlining meaning each and every story carries. There are three prominent themes I would like to discuss, the figurative and the literal blindness of the characters in the works, enlightenment, and the freedom the characters experience throughout each individual piece. The themes also go hand in hand because one cannot learn a lesson without achieving enlightenment, and cannot free themselves if there is no blinding barrier.

The one prominent similarity in all the works is the blindness of the characters. In The Elephant in the Village of the Blind, the people of the town are blind figuratively and literally. "The elders of the village were a little afraid of the strange smelling creature that took up so much space in the middle of the village square,"("The Elephant in the village of the blind") The villagers are figuratively blind because they are judging the "creature" without even giving it a chance to prove itself an innocent animal. Similarly in 20/20, Bill is blind to the fact that Ruthie in fact has a different perspective to the world because she comes from a small rural town in Ohio. Brewer expresses, "Miles later he [bill] frowned. There was no Indian paintbrush, that he knew of, near Chicago,"(19). He does not understand Ruthie's imagination and thinks it is silly. While in The Cathedral, Richard, again is literally blind but Robert is the one who is figuratively blind. "I wasn't enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me"(Carver 32).Robert's narrow mindedness made him blind to the fact that people can overcome their limitations and amaze anyone. Even in the movie The Elephant man, John Merrick's physical appearance blinded the people around him to the fact...
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