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The Phantom of the Opera vs. Wuthering Heights (1 Viewer)

  • Thread starter blue_eyed_angel14
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Hey this is my first post! I'm not sure if this is the right place for this because there seemed to be a couple threads it could go into. Um..enjoy. I welcome all critism good or bad.

Just to let you know I wrote this essay for my English class. I was suppose to compare adn contrast to books of the same genre.

Gaston Leroux, a Frenchman, wrote The Phantom of the Opera in 1910. The novel is based around the Paris Opera House, which is where the main characters live. The story is a love-triangle. Christine Daae` is the female component. She is an orphan who lived and trained in the ballet dormitory. Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, was her childhood sweetheart and when he became the patron of the Opera House he rediscovered her. Christine loved him and he loved her. Unfortunately there was a third wheel, Erik. Otherwise called the Phantom of the Opera or the Opera Ghost, Erik is a disfigured man who had been living under the Opera House. Erik was obsessed with Christine and had trained her since she was little. He often stole her away and wanted her to marry him. The novel is about the conflicts of Erik’s obsession. The Phantom of the Opera is considered a gothic romance. Another gothic romance is Wuthering Heights, written in 1847 by Emily Bronte`. Wuthering Heights is, basically, about a man, Lockwood, who is in investigating Heathcliff’s, his landlord’s, past though his servant Nelly Dean. The story revolves around two places, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange in Yorkshire. Heathcliff is a dark-skinned gypsy who came to live with the Earnshaws as a young child. Catherine Earnshaw was their youngest child. Catherine and Heathcliff fall in love but Catherine felt she couldn’t marry Heathcliff because it would degrade her. So Heathcliff left for three years and Catherine married Edgar Linton. Heathcliff came back and a lot of drama happened. To explain it simply Heathcliff married Isabella Linton, Edgar’s sister. Catherine died giving birth to her daughter, young Catherine. Isabella had a son named Linton. Through a series of events Catherine and Linton meet and became secret lovers. Heathcliff found out and as a way to inherit both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange he had them married. Linton however was a sickly child and died not a year after his marriage. Heathcliff forced Catherine to stay at Wuthering Heights. There she meets Hareton, her cousin on her mother’s side. They feel in love and planed to be married on New Year’s Day. While all of this was happening Heathcliff was growing mad and seeing Catherine’s ghost everywhere. One night while walking on the cliffs he fell to his death.
As one can see the books have a lot in common. Both books deal with body issues. In The Phantom of the Opera the whole reason Erik acts as he does is because he is disfigured and rejected from society. In Wuthering Heights Heathcliff is a dark-skinned gypsy who, as a child, was teased because of his appearance. One of the most apparent similarities is the love-triangles in the books. As described above both books contain love-triangles. In Wuthering Heights Catherine loves Heathcliff, Heathcliff loves Catherine, Edgar loves and marries Catherine. It could actually be made into a “love-square” if one included Isabella Linton/Heathcliff. In The Phantom of the Opera Christine loves Raoul, Raoul loves Christine, and Erik loves Christine. Coincidently both Heathcliff and Erik die due to their love. Heathcliff from falling off the cliffs looking for Catherine’s ghost and Erik from a broken heart, plain and simple. Narration is very important in a novel and Wuthering Heights and The Phantom of the Opera are narrated in very similar ways. Both books are narrated in the past tense with flashbacks. In Wuthering Heights Lockwood is investigating his landlord through a servant who knows too much, Nelly Dean. Lockwood records her stories in his diary. In The Phantom of the Opera Gaston Leroux is investigating the story of the Opera Ghost. Although he doesn’t actually learn the story from a servant who knows too much there is such a character, Madame Giry, who knows quite a lot about Erik and reveals it to the reader. Diaries also play a role in The Phantom of the Opera. Mr. Leroux’s main point of cited references is the memoirs of the managers of the Opera House, which is a diary of sorts. Since both books are romances both books focus on marriage. So in both books marriage is proposed but in an unusual way. In The Phantom of the Opera Erik holds Christine hostage, giving her the choice of marriage or killing everyone in the Opera House. The idea of hostages is also in Wuthering Heights when Heathcliff holds young Catherine hostage until she marries his son, Linton. Cultural backgrounds also affect both books. A French man originally wrote The Phantom of the Opera in French. The book has been translated to English but there are still some aspects of French in it. The most major is titles. Through out the book Mr. is represented through the letter M. or MM. And Miss through the initials Mlle. Someone who does not study the French language might be confused but apparently it is just the French way. Native language also plays a role in Wuthering Heights, which was written by a Yorkshire woman. Although the book was written in English Miss Bronte` decided to pay a tribute to her native language by adding a character, Joseph, who speaks with a very strong Yorkshire accent as demonstrated in the following:
Maister, maister, he’s staling t’ lanthern!
This exclamation translates to “Master, master he’s stealing the lantern!” There is one more main similarity, the idea of incest. Incest is most prominent in Wuthering Heights when young Catherine marries her first cousin on her father’s side and then goes on to marry her first cousin on her mother’s side. One could say she was just trying to keep it in the family. The idea of incest is also in The Phantom of the Opera even though it is more abstract. Early in Christine’s life Erik becomes a father figure to her. He is her mentor, her male influence. As described earlier Erik falls madly in love with Christine and although they don’t marry or share much physical contact the idea of that father figure-daughter figure-lover relationship is there. There are many more similarities that one could ramble about but those where the main ones. Both have been made into movies and T.V. mini-series. The Phantom of the Opera was first put on film in 1916, just six years after it came out. Wuthering Heights first appeared on the big screen in 1920. Needless to say both books have influenced culture throughout the generations.
When one first looks at The Phantom of the Opera and compares it to Wuthering Heights without reading it there seems to be a lot more differences than likenesses. However the opposite is true. Besides the obvious differences (Wuthering Heights is set in England whereas The Phantom of the Opera is set in France, Wuthering Heights is older etc) there are only a few major differences. The most intriguing one is that The Phantom of the Opera is based off of fact. Along with evidence from the manager’s memoirs Mr. Leroux also supplies the reader with an insightful epilogue. In a special feature on the 2005 DVD Emmy Rossum (Christine Daae`) talks about her visit to the Opera House. How there really is an underground lake that would be very easy to hide in and how when she asked the current ballet instructor if there were/had been any opera ghosts she replied, “They’re called souls, dear.” Wuthering Heights is historical fiction (a fictional plot with historical facts). Perhaps the only other difference worth mentioning is that Wuthering Heights has a much more complicated cast of characters. Although having a larger cast of characters does not usually effect the difficulty of a piece Emily Bronte`’s use of similar names and interlinking families may make the reader stop for a minute and try to sort everything out. Although The Phantom of the Opera probably contains about the same amount of characters it focuses mainly on three and the family trees that can be drawn up are quite simple in comparison (see figure A. attached).
“Words have a longer life than deeds.”{Pindar, 522-443 B.C.} Indeed, literature will outlast many generations and hopefully The Phantom of the Opera and Wuthering Heights will continue to be influential to human culture. There is hope because even if, at some point, human society becomes akin to Fahrenheit 451 both books are reenacted on countless videotapes and DVDs.

Thanks for taking the time to read!
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