My article for discussion being that of The Phantom of the Opera. The Book, not the musical, mind you. I do enjoy the soundtrack, though the story from the Musical Rendition varies from that of Gastron Leroux original novel. Though both contain similar plots, I find the original novel to be somewhat in touch with realism, as it focuses more on the Phantom’s human side and origins than the film does, capturing the truly human aspect: The Nature of the Phantom.
I am going to avoid a plot summary, and simply talk about the Phantom’s character. The story explains that he was born with a deformation of the face, causing his mother to be horrified at his face, and forcing him to wear a mask to hide his face from the world. He runs away as a young boy, despised wherever he goes for his horrific face, until he finds his way into the hands of gypsies where he runs a ‘freak’ show as ‘The Living Dead.” Eventually he flees the world as best he can, inhabiting the Paris Opera House, where he makes it his home and lair.
Now having a brief history of the character, I will focus on his nature through the Phantom of the Opera story. Where he falls in love with the singer Christine Daae, and poses as the Angel of Music (the angel Christine’s father promised to send her after his death, in order to teach her to sing,) alluring her into a trance like seduction with his voice. Here we find the Phantom (or Erik as we may call him, by his applied name,) caught in between selfish desires and emotions, in a world which has readily despised and hated him. He sees Christine as the one who can console his hurts, and heal his sufferings, so he seduces her love with his voice. The story explains Christine’s battle against the Phantom’s calling (which she deems as the Angel of Music whom her father sent), and her love for the Viscount Raoul de Chagny, a childhood friend, as the plot reaches its climax in an confrontation of the love triangle.
But focusing less on the actual story, I would like to discuss the rather sad story of why he became the Phantom. His story of his tragic deformity is enough to relate the simplest idea. He was an outcast. Despised, loathed, feared, hated. Yet, despite receiving all this from people, he was still human, still had a heart…still needed what every person needs. Love. I’m not talking in a romantic sense, but of the idea that man, being a social being, must interact with others, love, and be loved.
Having a lack of this necessary love, particularly in his childhood, we see the monster emerge in his later years. That lack of love turned into a hate towards people. And strikingly enough, this example can be found in any and every form of life. Love is the binding force and motivation in human nature. If one is not loved, then he does not know the true essence of what life is!
“Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up” – 1 Corinthians 13:4
True love consists of charity. That is, sacrificial love: Between parents and a child, a husband and a wife. It is the selfless giving of oneself for the happiness and wellbeing of another.
This being said, we find the Phantom’s character completely void of this love (charity.) His actions towards Christine are of a selfish love and affection, as he uses the power of his singing voice to manipulate her to his side. He kills those who challenge his plans without thought, a monster indeed without second glance.
But despite this dark side, he has a change of heart at the end of the story. When forcing Christine to choose between loving him and letting Raoul live, or killing Raoul if she refuses him, Christine makes a bold move, cries out of compassion for the Phantom’s hurts in life, and kisses him. The act of kindness, namely the fact that she kissed his disfigured face without hate and loathing for it moves his heart to let both Christine and Raoul live. The changed Erik then vanishes into the dark passageways of the Opera house, never to be seen again.
Love has the power to change. We see here, how lack of love was what wrought such a monster of a man. Yet the simple application of that unselfish act of love on Christine’s behalf towards the man behind the deformed monster, brought the Phantom’s true self back to reality.