The Phantom of the Opera
There have been few books created on this earth that can parallel the grandeur and elegance of The Phantom of the Opera. It takes intrigue and mystery and mixes it up in a dangerous plot of romance and the macabre. Thus it creates the so well known and liked classic. Added to the growing list of tasteful morsels that The Phantom of the Opera offers is the magnificent setting at The Opera House in Paris. However, the most intriguing part of this book is what separates it from a common romance novel. Anybody can write a romance novel, yet this book strikes the heart and the mind with a feeling so unbelievable, a feeling that you cannot receive through common romance dime novels. The extra spice that causes the book to turn from common to extraordinary is the character Eric and the way the story comes to an end.
The Phantom, himself is an incredible character whose mystery creates a veil of danger and lunacy throughout the book. When the Persian leads the Victome de Chagne into the torture chamber and proceeds to tell all about the life of Eric, it brings to light a life that is almost impossible to imagine. Poor Eric was disfigured and as a result was treated in such a way as to drive him away from humanity and society. He banished all form of human morals, because who could be morally “right” and yet treat a person in such an awful way. We might go as far as to think that he is an evil person, but does he not have a right to dispose of human morals? Imagine living in such a way and be subject to the constant tortures bestowed upon him by humanity. It is absolutely despicable.
The book causes one to feel a much different sensation within oneself than if this scenario had occurred in real life. One feels a sense of pity for Eric. At first one wishes that a developed relationship would form between Christine Daae and Eric, however as time passes one’s feelings change towards Eric as his actions prove him to be unworthy of her love. The irony of the book is that it twists the idea of a beggar falling in love with the princess and rather than winning her heart, he scares her away.
In science, the refraction of light occurs when light is dented while going through a reflective surface. When looking at water, the surface beneath is distorted because of a refraction of light. This is an example of Eric’s persona which is twisted by his disfigurement. His deformity distorts his brilliance and beauty on the inside. Because of his disfigurement, his difference, society treats him with fear and loathing. In response, Eric is filled with hatred. It burns and twists at his insides till he can no longer bear the weight of his torment. His soul screams in agony. He becomes evil.
Love attempts to overcome evil when Eric falls in love with a beautiful woman. He hides behind the mask, hoping the woman would see the beauty within and ignore the ugliness without. Rather than fulfilling our fantasies, Gaston Leroux lays things down as they truly would be within this world. In the real world pity does not create love. No marriage has ever occurred because a woman felt sorry for a male or at least not a sane woman.
In the book, Christine Daae feels nothing but pity for Eric. Pity is the only thing that prevents her from running off with Vicomte de Chagne. That and her innocence in believing Eric might truly be the Angel of Music. It is quite interesting how well Christine Daae fits the picture of an innocent gullible character. Eric falls in love with the only girl who would actually not be suspicious of an Angel of Music haunting her mirrors and footsteps. However despite his carefully chosen love Miss Daae, he is still rejected by her. Eric had the best scenario possible (excluding his deformity) and yet he still lost. He appealed to her humanly love of supernatural beings, he appealed to her sense of pity, he tried to force her love, and he even tried to buy her love. And yet, he still failed. In the end Eric succumbed to his own love and as a result died. I believe this to be the factor that makes Gaston Leroux’s book so unique.
The novel has an absolutely beautiful ending, but it kind of leaves you confused. He had this incredible determination to win Christine Daae. He went to the extent where he even killed people and also threatened to blow up the Opera House which would have been catastrophic. Yet, in a single instant he crumbles. What made him realize that his situation was hopeless? He had her hand. She eventually would have resigned herself to her fate and may have even come to love him. There is no answer to these questions, so one can only guess.
Remember when you were young and you thought you were in love until your lover broke your heart? Do you remember how painful that was? Eric spent his entire life obsessing over negative things. His obsessions were all centered around “evil,” creating an evil aura over his life. Finally, he came across something that created a positive influence on his life. Or what would have, if he had not been deformed or turned down. Then at the end of this “true love,” he realizes that she may never love him. He comes to the realization that he drove her away with his evil antics. So in the name of love he lets Christine Daae and the Victome de Chagne leave and then he dies. This seems like an example of love winning and yet didn’t love lose.
Gaston Leroux points out that there is always a loser and a winner. In truth it is more often one winner and many losers. Leroux creates two opposing scenarios of love. One is the Beauty and The Beast scenario. The other, is love overpowering evil. One has to win. One has to lose. Yet books are normally made to fulfill our fantasies. This book pulls you to various sides making you change your feelings over and over. By the time the book ends you are glad that Christine Daae and Raoul get together, but there was a time within the book in which you were in support of Eric. The writers ability to control you and your emotions are what cause books like these to be so great. Three Cheers for the Phantom of the Opera!