There are many themes apparent in the film The Elephant Man. Two of the most apparent themes are acceptance and compassion. The Elephant Man, John Merrick, wants to be accepted by society but because of his appearance is not. Doctor Treves looks beyond Johnâ€™s appearance to what is inside of him.
The first time compassion and acceptance is shown towards John, we begin to see a change in his attitude. John Merrickâ€™s attitude change is seen in the transition between his two lifestyles, paradise and prison. When the elephant man is not shown compassion or accepted his life is a prison. When he is accepted and shown compassion from just a few individuals he is truly happy and in a paradise. This is true of real life also, people seem to have a happy or content character when they are loved and accepted verse when they know no compassion.
â€œThis is my home. This is my home!â€ He had, at long last, found a place of acceptance where being disfigured did not matter a home . "I am happy every hour of the day. My life is full of good. I know that I am loved." This quotes shows the difference in John Merrick after he is shown compassion and acceptance.
Another theme reflected in these two quotes is self acceptance. John Merrick is depicted as a man of considerable strength of character, never cursing God or man for his ailments. By the viewers being allowed to see John in both the prison and paradise settings, we are allowed to see the change in his character from the acceptance and compassion. .
The Elephant Man, through the direction of the director, connects emotionally to the audience. As we the audience watch, we want John Merrick to be freed from his prison life for good. We identify with the character because this is not the type of lifestyle we would want for our lives. We want John to have and experience the same acceptance and compassion that we experience on a daily basis.