The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most remade stories with over 150 remakes of movies, television shows, books, comics, documentaries, children shows, translations and even radio broadcasts. The most famous ones being the 1911 original book by Gaston Leroux, the later Phantomby Susan Kay, the musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the movie by Andrew Lloyd Webber and directed by Joel Schumacher. I first discovered this wonderful story through the 2004 movie adaption by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Joel Schumacher. Before the first scene was even over, I had been captivated by it. When I heard there was a book I immediately had to read it, thus is how I came upon the original Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Now I normally don’t read many older books especially when they have been translated from the language they were written in, but I decided to break away from my normal habits and take the plunge.
It starts out by simply stating “The Opera ghost really existed”. The author’s note from Gaston Leroux goes on to say how he investigated in the National Academy of music, trying to unravel the story of Erik, or more well known as ‘The Phantom’. I have read that The Phantom of the Opera is actually based off a true story, if that is true or not, let’s just say it’s a long-shot. There are elements of truth to it though; such as the lake underneath the Opera Populair that housed Erik’s ‘Lair’. But if Erik, Christine, the Vicomte de Chagny- Raoul, and the Persian truly existed- the world may never know.
The story is a Romantic Drama with a little action. There are three main characters, Erik, Christine and Raoul; unfortunately, they are in a love triangle with Christine in the middle. Raoul was Christine’s childhood friend. He saved her red scarf from the sea in Peros, France and they remained friends until Chrsitine’s father died. Christine’s Mother and Father both being dead, she went to go stay with Mamma Valèrius, a trusted aquantence of Mr. Daaè’s. She remained there until she started singing and dancing at the Opera Populair. Enter Erik, he became known to her first as the ‘Angel of Music’. You see, before her father died he told her and Raoul the story of little Lotte and her angel of music that taught her to sing. On Christine’s father’s death bed, he promised her the ‘Angel of music’. So Erik, playing upon this ‘Angel of music’ thing, starts to give Christine voice lessons and in the process falls in love with her, unfortunately the feeling are not mutual. Christine comes to hate his possessiveness of her. Now Erik, in this version, not only wears a white mask covering his whole face, but he is also roughly thirty-six years older than her! Partway through the book the chandelier crashes, and he is forced to reveal himself to Christine, and brings her down to his ‘lair’ for a fortnight. Christine begins to have feeling for him, and unmasks him, revealing his face, the face that got him the name ‘the living corpse.’ Erik releases her, and not soon after she is up on the roof of the Opera house telling Raoul of the horrors she was witness to in the cellars of the Opera house. Raoul promises to take her away and marry her, whatever it took to get away from Erik.
Again Erik kidnaps her, forcing her to choose him or Raoul. If she chooses Raoul, Erik will destroy the Opera house and everyone inside with the explosives he has in the cellar of his lair. He gives her one day to make up her mind, he then leaves her till she has made her choice. She then realizes that Raoul and an old ‘friend’ of Erik’s- The Persian, have come to rescue her, but they are trapped in Erik’s torture chamber. Attempting to save the people above, she agrees to marry Erik. Raoul and the Persian find a way out of the torture chamber. Unfortunatly they fall into where Erik is keeping the barrels of gunpowder. He then kisses Christine on the forehead, and she kisses him back. Erik then breaks down into sobs saying, "Go and marry the boy whenever you wish,” they cry together and then she leaves on one condition: she will come back and bury him when he is dead. Three weeks later, the Persian tells the newspapers he is dead, the cause, a broken heart.
It is the tale of a lonely man that has never in his life known love. When he found someone he might love, he became obsessive, possessive and jealous. The 19th century was a cruel time. Who knows, if Erik had been born in the late 20th century the story may not have been the same at all. In the 19th century, people were ruled by religion and fact-less fear. They did not treat people with deformities of any nature kindly back then. Today we know that, no, just because a person is ugly or they are crippled or deformed does not mean they are the spawn of Satan. I believe it is a good classic, sad story that everyone needs to read, or at least watch the movie.