What are some literary techniques used in The Elephant Man, i.e; irony, suspense, symbolism, etc. 

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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"The Elephant Man is classified as a melodrama, which are plays in which the plot offers a conflict between two characters who personify extremes of good and evil."

Merrick is the extreme of good and Ross, the manager of the freak show the representation of evil. 

For a complete explanation of the literary devices used click on the link below.

despayre's profile pic

despayre | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Although "The Elephant Man" is based on a true story, it is classified as a melodrama. A melodrama is a writing where there is a conflict between two characters who act as the personification of good and evil. Most of the time they end  happily and utilize sensationalism.

There is also an alienation effect in the book, which makes the reader keep at a distance from the main character, while at the same time strangely sympathizing with him.

Some of the themes in the play are fear (what the Elephant Man feels constantly), Beauty (what is admired in all societies), alienation and loneliness (although he is a celebrity, visited by high society, he is still not a member and immensely lonely as a human being, as he is not really considered one; he is a celebrity for being an oddity), the human condition (the British ideas of what is 'proper' are being imposed on Merrick, without considering what his own feelings are), and how each human being suffers in their own way. Finally, Freedom; Merrick believes he has found freedom from his oppressors, but now he is imprisoned by the cultural norms of the time. Merrick is never truly free, and finally frees himself in his own way.

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