Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 625
The Bishop is concerned about Merrick’s religious instruction and offers spiritual guidance. He genuinely believes in doing his Christian duty, but he also appears to forget that Merrick has needs beyond those of religion.
The Conductor believes that Merrick is an imbecile. When they arrive in London, he gets help from a policeman to protect Merrick.
The Countess is one of Merrick’s visitors.
The Duchess is one of Merrick’s many visitors who brings him Christmas gifts.
Gomm is the administrator of the London Hospital where Merrick is housed. His care of Merrick always appears to be self-serving. When Merrick dies, Gomm writes the final epitaph for Merrick and decides to donate the money for Merrick’s care to the hospital.
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Lord John is involved in some shady financial dealings. When a great deal of money is lost, it is implied that John will be leaving town quickly.
An actress, Mrs. Kendal visits Merrick in order to provide some normal social interaction for him. She is not repulsed by Merrick’s appearance. Finding him to be charming and intelligent, she decides to introduce him to society. She visits him frequently and becomes an important part of his life.
When he tells her that he has never seen a naked woman, she removes her clothes. Treves enters and is so outraged that he throws Mrs. Kendal out of the room—and out of Merrick’s life.
Merrick suffers from Proteus Syndrome, which has resulted in large, bulbous growths growing from his skull. To explain his nickname, ‘‘The Elephant Man,’’ he tells Treves that his mother was beautiful, but she was kicked by an elephant when she was pregnant.
Placed in a workhouse when he was three, he had been part of a freak show for many years. He brings in a lot of money for his ‘‘handler,’’ Ross, but then Ross also steals from him. He is incredibly lonely.
After Treves finds Merrick, he is taken to the London Hospital where he is studied and sheltered. While in the hospital, Merrick begins to draw and read, and ultimately he constructs a model of St. Phillip’s Church.
Merrick is intelligent and funny, with a normal interest in women. When he tells Mrs. Kendal that he has never seen a normal woman’s body, she responds by removing her clothing. When she is banished, Merrick misses her very much.
These are three women freaks with pointy heads. They appear briefly in Brussels as part of a freak show and reappear in Merrick’s dream as he dies.
Ross is the manager of ‘‘The Elephant Man,’’ a freak show. He steals from Merrick and sends him back to London. Later, after Ross reads that Merrick has become a celebrity, Ross visits him and suggests that they go back into business again.
Sandwich is the nurse that is so repulsed by Merrick’s appearance she runs from the room.
Snork is a porter who brings Merrick his meals. It is he who finds Merrick’s body after he dies.
A surgeon and teacher, Treves brings Merrick to the hospital for study. He also rescues Merrick after Ross abandons him. He appears to genuinely care about Merrick, but he hopes to garner attention from his association with him. Treves is rigid and uncompromising, a Victorian gentleman who is shocked when Mrs. Kendal shows Merrick her body. In the end, Treves becomes disillusioned in his life and finds no satisfaction in his job or his family. Yet he does seem to understand by the play’s conclusion that his life has been changed by Merrick.