Merrick y el dolor
Grease pencil on paper
89 x 74,5 cm
Merrick and his sorrow
John Merrick, the Elephant man, lost his mother when was ten. Rejected by his father, he left home and tried somehow to make a living. Aged twelve he was hired in a cigar factory, but he was forced to leave the job soon afterwards because his deformity worsened and he could no longer move his arm. He ended up exhibiting as a human curiosity in a travelling circus. There he met Doctor Treves. The doctor recounted that the gruesome owner of the Elephant man treated him like a dog: “Stand up!” he used to yell at him. Merrick with great effort stood up, he let fall the blanket that covered his head and showed himself bare-chested. People screamed horrified. Dr Treves was likewise shocked and reported: “He is the most repulsive human being I have ever seen”. Treves decided to rescue Merrick from his owner and found a place for him to stay at his hospital where he started to study his case. During his first medical inspection the doctor, convinced that his patient was retarded, did not speak a word to John. Poor Merrick, so accustomed to be considered just a piece of flesh with neither feelings nor wit, did nothing to show that the contrary was true. Treves recalled: “At first I thought that John was dull-witted, I even hoped so. However when I found out that John was actually an individual of acute intelligence, great sensitivity and romantic imagination, I realized how terribly tragic his life must have been”.
Excerpt from the article “Merrick and His Sorrow” by Rosa Montero