Monday, February 3, 2014

Defending the Phantom

From what little I have read and observed, Erik aka the Phantom of the Opera, must be one of the most debated characters in story. Some like him, some don't. As you most likely guessed from the title, I like him. Indeed to be frank I am staunchly Team Phantom. Perhaps it is simply my love for the misunderstood and dramatic coming forth, but I truly do believe that despite his flaws and misdoings he had a character and spirit that, once rescued, would become a true man.

Put simply, I believe that Christine could have married him and that they would have been very happy together. Now, please do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting one go and find the nearest loony who happens to have taken a fancy to you, marry him, and hope that his fancy will hold you through life. No, I think that would be a very unwise idea, but....the Phantom of the Opera is not an everyday story. If we really look openly at the book we see that this is in no way an ordinary tale. Though told in a straightforward–“This is the way it happened and I an only writing what is commonly known” style–it is more of a fairy-tale with its telling of desperate humans turned into monsters waiting to be disenchanted and a lovely young lady turned in one night into a glorious singer by the mysterious and magical teaching of an invisible teacher.

Which brings me to another thing. I think Christine was the key to the disenchanting. It was by her willing heart to sacrifice herself that the Phantom finally realized that true love means sacrifice. He saw that that if he truly loved Christine then he would give her freedom to do as she wished. And he did. He gave her her freedom when she was in his power. He simply let her go. Broken by the world's rejection, holding within his hands the only beauty he had ever had for his own. He gave her the freedom to fly and bloom where she wished. (It is at this point that I start crying nearly as hard as the Phantom.) You see this whole part is about so much more than mere romantic passion. He had never known love. Never heard a word or note of love. Not the merest touch of the tiniest hand of kindness. Think of it. Never, never never having known or felt any type or single moment of the barest kindness or beauty. He was in total despair with not even the faintest glimmering of the hope that might have made his life at least not full of utter darkness. And when he had it all, he released it: beauty, sweetness, a kind and tender heart.

Even when people change their ways they still have to struggle with their past. However, when we again see the Phantom some little time later he is still in that reformed state. And besides, this is such a fantastical story already why can't it end with happiness for all concerned? (Excepting possibly, Raoul. But he was still a mere youth anyway and I think he could have found someone else.) Yes, there can be no true change without the Spirit of God, but He works at times through humans. Though, as stated before, in real life you should never marry people hoping that you might change them, even with its real life setting “The Phantom” is a fairy-tale and anything is possible in that magical realm.

And yet...I am satisfied with the way the story is finished. The Phantom is sad and alone, but he has truly lived and loved and even felt, if ever so slightly, love and sympathy returned. He is at peace. And so the story ends: the heartbreak and tragedy still present, but in it there has been redemption and the great tragic figure of the Phantom may know peace at last.

And that, friends, is why I am Team Phantom.




10 comments:

  1. FINALLY! Someone who understands me! I have always been Team Erik since finding out about Phantom! I have a debatish article on my blog and my opinion if you would care to read it! :)

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    1. Anna,
      I am very much looking forward to reading both your retelling of the Phantom and your post!! And thank you for the comment. :)

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  2. This is a lovely post, Lady Eowyn. You wrote this so well!! I loved your third paragraph-about Erika realizing true love means sacrifice. You really put into words how I feel about the Phantom. I'm not really on either "team" though. There are times I feel Christine should have married Erik, but then I think of Raoul...either way, someone would have an unhappy ending. Young as Raoul seems in the book (he's much better in the stage production), he truly did love Christine and Christine loved him. Anyways, I could on , but I'll keep this comment short and save my words for when I do a Phantom post of my own. :)
    Again, wonderful post. You have such a way with words! :)

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    1. Natalie,
      Thank you for commenting! I don’t think the Raoul of the book would have been right and mature enough for her, but I have not seen the musical (where I might think differently). I’m glad you enjoyed the post!! :)

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  3. I have never been team phantom, and I seem to think most people I know are at least sympathetic to him. When I first saw the musical performed in our city, I think I sort of could understand sympathy, and I still somewhat (after seeing Ramin Karimloo perform) see how others like the character, but I cannot. I read the book, and there is no sympathy given by the narrator at first anyways (that can influence me), and I felt horrified by him, and I was grossed out by his performance (my sister would tell me I am awful for this part of my dislike), but he killed completely innocent people in cold blood, and Raoul's brother the Compte de Chagny! I don't see him as being anything but purely evil; the way the book was written made the end seem out of place with the beginning, but the musical smoothed things out some (though less than I remembered).

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    1. Livia,
      Regarding the end harmonizing with earlier in the narrative, the story as a whole is done on a grand and fantastic scale. And even a murderer is not beyond the reach of grace and incapable of repentance (as seen in the story of King David and Uriah the Hittite). But we can agree to differ. Thank you for the follow!

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  4. You've made me consider the Phantom a little more kindly now! I've always been Team Raul. Well, anyhow, I love the musical; I sing it around the house more often than I should!

    ♥ aspirer
    www.heavenly-aspirations.blogspot.com

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    1. I have listened to the musical a lot, too (though I have not as yet seen it). :)

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  5. I've actually considered writing a novel about Erik, exploring his history and ending where "The Phantom of the Opera" begins. Maybe one of these days.

    In other words... I agree!!!

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    1. So happy to meet another "Phan"! :) A prequel to the Phantom-with all of the twists and turns following the adventures and happenings which made Erik who he was-would make a perfectly fascinating read!

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