Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Use Your Allusion: Elephant Man

Joseph Merrick (1862-1890) was born with a rare disease, now thought to have been Proteus syndrome, which caused severe deformities in his face. He spent his adult years working as a fairground freak on exibit. Sir Frederick Treves was a surgeon who had compassion on him and eventually rescued him from his miserable plight, giving him sanctuary in the London hospital.

To refer to someone as an elephant man is synonymous to saying they are a very conspicuous freakish person.

A recent use of this allusion:
"If either party...does not wish to continue the relationship, they must clearly and considerately state this in a manner that reassures the other party that they are not the Elephant Man/Woman without being patronising." - Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones' Diary, 1999

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