Joseph Carey Merrick, or the Elephant Man, was a disfigured man born on August 05, 1862, in Leicestershire, England. Joseph Carey Merrick was just two years old when his mother noticed that some of his skin areas started to change.
Some discolored and darkened skin growth was appearing on his body that began to look rough and bumpy over time. Lumps also started to grow under this boy’s skin, neck, chest, and the back of the head. Mary Jan Merrick, who was the mother of Joseph Carey Merrick, became worried about her son, while the other boys started to make fun of Joseph Carey.
Overall, Merrick had a callous life. Joseph Carey Merrick, aka the Elephant man, was normal until about the age of five when he started to show off his disorders signs that became a cause behind his skin and bones’ abnormal growth.
However, with this disorder, the size of his head increased to about 3 feet in circumference, with a spongy like skin hanging from his face to across his head and back. Even more, he also suffered from the deformation of his jaws that rendered him from speaking with clarity and showing off his facial expressions in a proper way.
Even though the left arm of Joseph Carey Merrick was fine but the arm on the right side was 12-inches in circumference and ended on the wrist with a finlike hand. Well, both of his legs were deformed in a pretty similar manner as his arms. The defective hip of Joseph Carey Merrick caused such lameness due to which he was not able to move even a few steps without the aid of a stick.
When he was about 12 years old, his hand became so deformed that it became utterly useless. Simultaneously, the growth in different areas of his skin was now repulsive and large for most people to look at. The disorder that made Joseph Carey Merrick suffer was believed to be an extremely severe neurofibromatosis case. However, his disability was probably the result of a highly rare disease known as Proteus syndrome.
How Joseph Carey Merrick became an elephant man?
Over the next few years of his disability and after his mother passed away, the elephant man left his home and started working in a factory to earn his livings. His co-workers abused Merrick at the factory and finally, he ended up being a part of a freak show.
At that time, his face was distorted because of the overgrown of the half side of his head. Even the flesh around Merrick’s nose grew to such a level that led the show promoter to dub him as an elephant man.
The freak show was the only way left him to make money due to which he contacted a showman in London and went there to start in the freak shows. Even in the freak shows, there was a lot of debate on whether the showman abuses Joseph to earn money. However, whatever the truth was, Joseph Carey Merrick made a lot of money by his shows while the showman made even more by staring him in his plays. During his entire life, Joseph Carey Merrick never experienced freedom.
What Elephant man received from the public after joining the freak shows?
Elephant Man attracted massive interest during the Victorian period, from the mid-1800s to the late 1800s. At that time, the public was intrigued by freak shows and anatomy. It was the British Empire’s height when people had disposable incomes for the very first time, along with free time. Therefore, to attract more people, anatomy became the freak shows’ incredibly popular part.
The showmen were always in search of more and more different or unique things to display. Whether the very thin or tall, bearded woman conjoined twins or others. But the level of Joseph Carey Merrick deformity made him much famous across multiple regions. He was more commonly known as the elephant man and had earned too much fame and money through his freak shows before being on the bed of London Hospital in severe condition.
The story ended with a heavy heart:
Joseph Carey Merrick arrived in London at the age of 22 years to appear in his last freak show before leaving for Belgium. After that, he returned to London, where he became destitute. Then at the age of 24, he was taken to the London hospital in a dire state. The remaining life was spent by him in the London hospital. During his hospital time, the well-known elephant man was visited by famous people from the theater and even princess Alexandra.
Much more than anything else, Joseph Carey Merrick always wanted to be a man like other ordinary people around him. He always wished to sleep while lying down. But his large head size and weight never allowed him to do so. He had to sleep while sitting up. One morning in 1890, Joseph Carey Merrick was lying down on his back in the bed. He was dead then. The heavyweight and large size of his head crushed his spinal cord and had dislocated his neck.
The story of Joseph Carey Merrick ended in 1890 when he was just 27 years old.