Friday, July 13, 2007

Nothing better

It doesn't happen every semester. Sometimes I wish it would, but I also know that if it did, it wouldn't be nearly as special as when it does.

Today we were finishing the story of the Elephant Man, which we've been reading and watching for the past 12 weeks. The ending is ambiguous as to Joseph Merrick's death, a perfect set-up for the final writing topic: "Did Merrick commit suicide?"

I've read about 150 papers on the topic this semester and this one stood out not so much for what was written about the question of intentional death, but for what the student revealed about his experience in the class.

He writes:

The Elephant Man gave me a lot of important things. The kind, angry, happy, sadly. - I was very happy. It was very important lesson for me. I am going to become very kind man like Dr Treves, and very happy man like Merrick.

Treves, as you might know, is the doctor who first approaches Merrick as a scientific curiosity, only to discover through his work with him the depths of his own compassion. Merrick, the Elephant Man, hides under a grotesque exterior the heart of a child, able to love the world and everything in it despite having been treated for most of his life like a monster.

My birthday is tomorrow. This is one of the best presents any one could ever think to give me.



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