After John Merrick arrives at the hospital, he begins to build a paper model of the cathedral whose steeple he can see out of his window. He is able to glimpse only the top of the steeple, so he must construct the rest of the church from his imagination.
The church model is a symbol of his imagination and his faith—not only in God but also in himself. As he flourishes at the hospital, so does his church grow. At the beginning of the play, he is without faith, but his humane treatment from Dr. Treves and others helps his faith flourish. As Merrick must create the cathedral out of his own mind, so he must contribute to his own faith. He works on building the model with only one good hand, symbolizing the way in which his faith is at times troubled, given his complicated and difficult life. Merrick completes the cathedral just before he dies, showing that his faith is intact when he dies.
The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance is positively steeped in religious themes, making it something of...
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