Topics for Further Study

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Research the state of medicine in London in the 1880s. What medical options were available for the poor and for those who did not fit into mainstream London society?

Conduct some research into Proteus Syndrome. (Until recently, Merrick was thought to suffer from neurofibromatosis.) Determine what treatments existed in the nineteenth century and compare them with those that exist today.

Investigate freak shows and discuss why you think they have remained popular.

An important theme of this play is humanity versus science. Treves can offer Merrick no cure or treatment, but he keeps him sequestered in a hospital setting. Treves perceives Merrick as a reflection of his own humanity and seeks to impose his values and beliefs on Merrick. Discuss his motives and whether you think he succeeds in redeeming himself by the play’s conclusion.

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