The Elephant Man


  • Why did Merrick want a dressing case as a Christmas present if he could not use it?
He liked to act like other people. It gave him pleasure to imagine that he was a young man-about-town were getting ready for a round of social events. He felt better when he didnít feel that he was different, that he was a beast.

  • How did Merrick die?
First, he could sleep lying down because of his large and heavy head. Therefore, because he desired to be like other people, one night, he decided to try it! However, the pillow was soft and his head, placed on it, must have fallen back and dislocated his neck.

  • Why did Sir Frederick Treves hope that Merrick was retarded?
Because it would be very difficult to live in this body. First, he could not speak and show expressions (so he seemed to have no emotion), what complicated his relationship because nobody could understand him. In addition, he didnít have self-confidence because everyone he met fell back in horror and disgust, and he was taken around the country to be shown off as a monster. He was lame, could use only one arm, and could not make himself understood. Who can live with these mental and physical conditions?

  • How can we know that Merrick was romantic?
First, because he found most delight in love stories when he read. Also, because he admired women to the point of worship. For example, when Queen Alexandra came, it was a delight beyond Merrickís wildest dream. Moreover, when she sent him a signed picture of her, Merrick considered it as a sacred object. However, he knew that a woman who could not see him, only her, might fall in love with him. This is why we suppose that he was romantic.

  • Why could the fact that Merrick have no mirror in his room helped him to feel better?
Because he was now talking to duchesses and countesses, that they brought him presents, made his room bright with pictures, and supplied him with books, he was beginning to be less aware of his ugliness and to feel more important. The fact that there was no mirror in his room allowed him to not remember his real physical appearance, because of which his life was so difficult!

  • What does it mean: `` It seemed to him that the eyes of the world still followed him``?
World doesnít have eyes! In fact, this expression means that everybody wanted to see him, everywhere he was (they wanted to have a look on him). He could not live normally because he was always followed by some curious who hoped see that beast! He could not stay quiet during a long time. He could never be free from the ring of curious eyes, and the whispers of fear and disgust.

  • Why did it was almost impossible to understand his speech?
Because the great bony mass that stuck out from his mouth like a pink stump, turning the upper lip inside out, blurred his words.

  • Why did the spongy-looking skin from the back of his head is brown?
Because this spongy-looking skin had the look of a cauliflower and it was difficult to wash correctly that king of skin. In fact, it was impossible to clean perfectly every cracks of that cauliflower skin. In addition, at that time, personal hygiene was not the first concern, and that was even truer when you were considered as a beast!


  • Through the text, how did the doctor perceive Merrick?
First, he saw him like a creature, a disgusting object called human that he wanted to examine, to do some medical searches. Therefore, Merrick was like a scientific phenomenon. However, he began to get know him: so, he could realize, by talking with him, that he was very intelligent, gentle, loving and pleasant. In spite of everything, of what Sir Treves learned about his life or his conditions, he always perceived him as a beast, as the most contented creatures he had ever met. It is a sad thing because we believe that when we learn to know somebody, it doesnít matter his physical conditions, we can pass over the appearance barrier to really appreciate the person. Nevertheless, Sir Treves didnít succeed in spite of his experience and his qualifications.

10. Why did the elephant man desire so hard to be like other people and he didnít at the end of the story accept his situation, his difference?


Because of the several life experiences he did during his last weeks, he forgot his particular situation, his difference, which made his life and his childhood so difficult to live. He was going to think that, maybe, he could live normally in his future because he did some usual activities and he mixed with ordinary people. In addition, he read many books, when showed to him a part of the real life. Therefore, he thought that, in spite of his physical condition, he was able to live like other people; he refused to face facts, so he didnít accept his important difference.


11. What is a sour thought?

It is when you think a bad, a malicious thing about somebody. In addition, it is to do something bas to someone because you donít like him or he did something bad to you and you desire take your revenge.


12. Many times in the text, Sir Treves compared Merrick to a child, why did he do it?

Because he never had normally contacts with the population before he went to the hospital, Merrick didnít have the chance to learn how live in society and how he should behave towards the others. Therefore, his social situation was the same of a childís one. He filled with wonder about some unpretentious things like a womanís smile. In addition, he loved make-believe, pretending to be a hero.