I was young when I first read The Phantom of the Opera. I was attracted to it because of the theatrical essence of it and its Gothic origin.
The story is known, the telling of the pages has been done and redone in many ways, and so now, I never thought I’d say this but here is The Phantom of the Opera book review.
The Original Summary
First published in French as a serial in 1909, The Phantom of the Opera is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her.
After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine’s childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage.
The voice, who is the deformed, murderous ‘ghost’ of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster.
Leroux’s work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik’s past, has been immortalized by great adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, more profound and darker than any version that follows.
When in school we were given a choice to choose whichever novel we wanted, as long as a French author had written it as I am from the province of Québec in Canada. I jumped on Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux. I was, I believe, twelve at the time. The book was quite an undertaking as it is quite thick. I never regretted it.
“If I am the phantom, it is because man’s hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me.” — Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera
Quickly, I somehow made connections between the character of Erik, the Beast, and Quasimodo. The “monster” who falls in love with a delicate, beautiful woman who does have a good-looking man after her. I thought maybe men had a fear of not being “prince charming” enough when it came to their physical looks, and male authors tried to exorcist those feelings out by creating those “monsters” and having the innocent lady open her heart to them.
The ending or purpose might have been entirely different in those three French stories, but the ugly man was at the center of the adventure while the woman was the ultimate prize. It is hard to say how broken those monsters felt, especially Erik who seemed more and more mysterious by the page.
The Phantom of the Opera is a Gothic Horror or Gothic Romance that has been done over a hundred and fifty times in entertainment history. Revolving around the Paris Opera House made it an inspiration to create a musical that lasted to this day in Broadway and makes his way around the world.
The character of Erik inspired authors ever since he has been created. Many women find a man attractive not by his looks, but by his way to show his possessiveness of her and how ready to fight for her he indeed is. Erik loved Christine, more than anyone could’ve ever loved her, but he was too much of a beast for the fragile rising star.
The Phantom of the Opera brought life to many reinterpretations of the story through a variety of authors. GoodReads has a Top 100 of the best ones based upon the original work of Gaston Leroux. After all, when reading the book, I realized I had many questions about Erik and his lonely tormented mind.
“All I wanted was to be loved for myself.” — Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera
He loved Christine to the point of passing himself as a ghost, taught her to be the best she could be and was ready to kill and die for her. Was he indeed a monster or was he the reflection of what society made him in a time where appearance worth more than what lied beneath.
All I Ask Of You
I won’t lie, I was genuinely disappointed when Christine chose Raoul as the one who won over her heart. It was as if Belle would’ve chosen Gaston in the Walt Disney remake of the fairy tale. It wasn’t right. Beauty kills the Beast. In the novel, Christine could be seen as Belle and should’ve saved the beast and show love to Erik who had never known the emotion before she entered his life.
I have quite a hard time with those “perfect” women characters. I tend to despise them, and Christine for me was too frail and delicate. I enjoyed the Phantom and his psychological issues that no one seemed to care for back in those days. Was he possessive of Christine? Yes. Was he jealous? Yes. Are those personality traits that could reveal to be abusive and dangerous toward anyone? Yes.
Consider this, Erik most probably was never shown love or was never taught how to love. All he had ever known from the novel, was loneliness and most likely, self-abuse. When he found someone his heart loved, he desired nothing more but to cherish it and protect it and love it the best way he knew how.
I do not believe that Erik would’ve been a negative lover to Christine and I certainly enjoyed the entire read of the novel despite the final choice. Many believe that Christine saw the Phantom as a mentor and not a lover and say she was smart to have chosen Raoul as despite in imperfection he tried all he could to make her happy.
I’m more of a lover of “bestial” men, and so even back then, I would’ve chosen the one rejected by society over the nobleman. I like the outcasted, not the “normals.” For that reason, I’ve always thought even to this day that Christine chose wrong.
100 Years Of Romance
It doesn’t matter the rating I would give The Phantom of the Opera as the years have proven it to be one of the best romantic stories ever written. The love shown for the Phantom and Christine is quite palpable, and I know that more people would’ve wanted them to be together forever than Raoul.
After all these years, the story is still well kept in my mind and part of my favorite novels collection. It will always have a special place in my heart. I’ve even been the female version of the Phantom four Halloweens in a row back when I was younger. That’s how attached I was to the character. At my wedding, I used some words from the novel to tell my husband how much I loved him.
The novel to me is a solid 9/10 for its words, its story and psychological impact it has due to the Phantom who despite his difficult personality still comes out like a wounded man. Christine might have chosen wrong in my eyes, but at least Belle chose the Beast. Haha.
The OCD Vampire,