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12.14.2005

Who Was the Elephant Man?

“The Elephant Man” is the name given to Joseph Carey Merrick. He lived in the 19th century in England, and is an example of how physical appearances were valued above intelligence and morals at that point in history. He is now believed not to have had elephantitis, but rather Proteus Syndrome. After his death, his skeleton was donated to science, and what little remained was either buried in an unmarked grave, or destroyed in the Blitz.

Before his 2nd birthday, Joseph Merrick began to grow tumors over his body. His right arm became as a club, about three times the size of his left arm. This also happened to his legs. His left arm, however, remained normal. When he was three, he damaged his left hip and had trouble walking from then on. Joseph lived with his mother until her death when he was eleven years old. He gained several new siblings when his father remarried, but his stepmother despised him. She wanted him to work, and at age thirteen, Joseph began to work at a company, making cigars. When his right hand became too heavy, he became a peddler. He underwent an operation to remove several ounces of flesh, and then had an incredible idea.

He would become part of an exhibition run by Sam Torr, a promoter. This exhibition was akin to a carnival sideshow, but it was good money. While in the exhibition, he wasn’t taunted as severely as before. A few months later, Merrick went to work for Tom Norman. Frederick Treves, a surgeon, examined Merrick and soon found him to be quite intelligent, with a love of poetry. The freak show went on, and two years later a man cheated Merrick out of all his money and left him stranded in Europe. He managed to find his way back to England.

Around the end of his life, freak shows were falling in the eyes of the public. Although Merrick himself didn’t mind parading around, normal people felt it was degrading to all humanity and it had to be stopped. Merrick needed a final home, a place he could live the rest of his life in. That place was Whitechapel. Although it was generally against the rules for anyone with an incurable illness to live in Whitechapel, an exception was made for Merrick. While in the hospital, Joseph kept his spirit up by making models and baskets for the staff and for his friends. His head was more than thirty inches in diameter, so he could only sleep sitting up. It is believed that one night, Merrick wanted to sleep like a normal human being, but this desire only succeeded in getting him killed. The weight of his head collapsed his windpipe, and he died at the age of 27. His autobiography was only three pages long, yet it mentions mostly the good aspects of his life. It includes a poem that shows his aspiration to satisfy people.


'Tis true my form is something odd,
But blaming me is blaming God;
Could I create myself anew
I would not fail in pleasing you.
If I could reach from pole to pole
Or grasp the ocean with a span,
I would be measured by the soul;
The mind's the standard of the man.

Processing 18×100 Robo-Comments:

Blogger Cabe gesticulated...

Yeah I saw the documentary on this guy. Creepy. He could belong to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

12/14/2005 11:07 PM  
Blogger robmcj gesticulated...

I thought I was the elephant man.

12/14/2005 11:15 PM  
Blogger angel, jr. gesticulated...

I saw the movie and loved it. But I think it dramatized it, made it Hollywood.
This post was great!

12/14/2005 11:47 PM  
Blogger Kay Ray gesticulated...

That is the sadest thing i've ever read.. I didn't know I would need a kelnex for your post!! I just want to wrap him up and take care of him.. he's a lost soul!!

12/14/2005 11:59 PM  
Blogger Bhakti gesticulated...

Thank you for such a beautiful tribute to the Elephant Man. I had always looked away from the pictures of him. But this time I really took a good look at him, and saw him as God's creation. Thank you, Gyrobocop. Beautiful.

12/15/2005 7:01 AM  
Blogger L>T gesticulated...

Wow! It was a really nice poem, too. I thot Mickel Jackson had his bones?

P.S. woke up this morning & looked at my new baby = 4****s
tiz beautiful. (like her creator)
excuse my comments w/I first saw her. I was in altered state of mind. some times my sense of humor is a little off.
What do I do w/her, daddy roboshrub?
P.S. hard to do word verif. with raging hangover. 2 ARGGHS

12/15/2005 9:14 AM  
Blogger Calzone gesticulated...

I once saw the lobster boy, not quite so lovely a story.

12/15/2005 10:57 AM  
Blogger Fred gesticulated...

lollerskates!

the elephnat man is cool. we smoked a bowl together once back in the golden age of cybertron. little known fact is he got like that because i accidentally trod on him.

12/15/2005 11:02 AM  
Blogger Gyrobo gesticulated...

Not many people realize how nice and kind Joseph Merrick was. Many people with his disease are of normal or above-average intelligence.

Which just adds insult to injury.

12/15/2005 12:25 PM  
Blogger ticharu gesticulated...

Any cure these days?

12/15/2005 3:09 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo gesticulated...

Sadly, there is no cure. Doctors don't even know what causes Proteus Syndrome, but they can operate to remove some of the tumors.

12/15/2005 3:17 PM  
Blogger Anonymouse gesticulated...

I'm here via JAIBHAKTI.

I've started a new blog.

Please check it out...and spread the news! :)

:)

Discreet Disclosures

12/15/2005 3:23 PM  
Blogger Fred gesticulated...

Gyrobo, thanks for visiting my blog. I wonder today, though, don't you think he'd get the same reaction to his physical appearance? Especially with all these silly Hollywood-types trying to convince is that the bony look is "in."

Great tribute.

12/15/2005 5:50 PM  
Blogger L>T gesticulated...

Our babybots picture is up! tanxs!

12/15/2005 6:28 PM  
Blogger Roboshrub Incorporated gesticulated...

Aw, it's adorable...

12/15/2005 8:45 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo gesticulated...

No doubt about it. He'd definitely get looked at funny today. But he'd probably have some surgeries or something.

I mean, there are still people with Proteus Syndrome. But with modern medical technology, they're being helped.

12/15/2005 8:47 PM  
Blogger L>T gesticulated...

Do you think it looks like you, roboshrub?

12/15/2005 9:32 PM  
Blogger Bhakti gesticulated...

Roboshrub is with Gyrobo in the dining room with Mint Tea Mystic. Am I correct, or am I correct???

12/16/2005 3:19 PM