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Erik is the main antagonist in Gaston Leroux 's 1911 The Phantom of the Opera .
- 1 Character history
- 2.1 Phantom
- 3 Erik's deformity
- 4.1 Original Casts
Character history [ ]
In the original novel, few details are given regarding Erik's past, although there is no shortage of hints and implications throughout the book. Erik himself laments the fact that his mother was horrified by his appearance and that his father, a master mason, never saw him. It is also revealed that "Erik" was not, in fact, his birth name, but one that was given or found "by accident", as Erik himself says in the novel. In the novel, Leroux sometimes calls him "the man's voice;" Erik also refers to himself as "The Opera Ghost", "The Angel of Music" and attends a masquerade as The Red Death .
Most of Erik's history is revealed by a mysterious figure, known through most of the novel as The Persian or the daroga, who had been a local police chief in Persia and who followed Erik to Paris ; some of the rest is discussed in the novel's epilogue.
Erik is born in a small town outside of Rouen , France . Born hideously deformed, he is a "subject of horror" for his family and as a result, he runs away as a young boy and falls in with a band of Gypsies , making his living as an attraction in freak shows, where he is known as " le morte vivant " ("the living dead"). During his time with the tribe, Erik becomes a great illusionist, magician and ventriloquist . His reputation for these skills and his unearthly singing voice spreads quickly, and one day a fur trader mentions him to the Shah of Persia . The Shah orders the Persian to fetch Erik and bring him to the palace.
The Shah-in-Shah commissions Erik, who proves himself a gifted architect , to construct an elaborate palace. The edifice is designed with so many trap doors and secret rooms that not even the slightest whisper could be considered private. The design itself carries sound to a myriad of hidden locations, so that one never knew who might be listening. At some point under the Shah's employment, Erik is also a political assassin , using a unique noose referred to as the Punjab Lasso .
The Persian dwells on the vague horrors that existed at Mazenderan rather than going in depth into the actual circumstances involved. The Shah, pleased with Erik's work and determined that no one else should have such a palace, orders Erik blinded . Thinking that Erik could still make another palace even without his eyesight, the Shah orders Erik's execution. It is only by the intervention of the daroga (the Persian) that Erik escapes.
Erik then goes to Constantinople and is employed by its ruler, helping build certain edifices in the Yildiz-Kiosk, among other things. However, he has to leave the city for the same reason he left Mazenderan: he knows too much. He also seems to have traveled to Southeast Asia, since he claims to have learned to breathe underwater using a hollow reed from the "Tonkin pirates".
By this time Erik is tired of his nomadic life and wants to "live like everybody else". For a time he works as a contractor, building "ordinary houses with ordinary bricks". He eventually bids on a contract to help with the construction of the Palais Garnier , commonly known as the Paris Opera House .
During the construction he is able to make a sort of playground for himself within the Opera House, creating trapdoors and secret passageways throughout every inch of the theatre. He even builds himself a house in the cellars of the Opera where he could live far from man's cruelty. In his isolation, Erik spends twenty years composing a piece entitled Don Juan Triumphant . In one chapter after he takes Christine to his lair, she asks him to play her a piece from his masterwork. He refuses and says, "I will play you Mozart , if you like, which will only make you weep; but my Don Juan, Christine, burns." Eventually, after she has wrenched off his mask and seen his deformed face, he begins to play it. Christine says that at first it seemed to be "one great awful sob," but then became alert to its nuances and power. Upon its completion, he originally plans to go to his bed (which is a coffin) and "never wake up," but by the final chapters of the novel, Erik expresses his wish to marry Christine and live a comfortable bourgeois life after his work has been completed. He has stored a massive supply of gunpowder under the Opera, and, should she refuse his offer, plans to detonate it. When she acquiesces to his desires in order to save herself, her lover Raoul and the denizens of the Opera, we find out that his part of the bargain was to take the Persian and Raoul above ground. He does so with the Persian, but Raoul was "a hostage" and was "locked up comfortably, properly chained" in the dungeon under the opera. When he returns, he finds Christine waiting for him, like "a real living fiancee" and he swore she tilts her forehead toward him, and he kisses it. Then he says he is happy that he fell at her feet, crying, and she cries with him, calling him "poor, unhappy Erik" and taking his hand. At this point, he is "just a poor dog ready to die for her" and he returns to her the ring she had lost and said that she was free to go and marry Raoul. Erik frees Raoul and he and Christine leave. But before they do, Erik makes Christine promise that when he dies she will come back and bury him. Then she kisses Erik's forehead. Erik dies soon after, but not before he goes to visit the Persian and tells him everything, and promises to send him Erik's dearest possessions: the papers that Christine wrote about everything that had happened with her "Angel of Music" and some things that had belonged to her. Christine keeps her promise and returns to the Opera to bury Erik and place the plain gold band he had given her on his finger. Leroux claims that a skeleton bearing such a ring was later unearthed in the Opera cellars.
Variations of Erik's story [ ]
Phantom [ ].
Many different versions of Erik's life are told through other adaptations such as films, television shows, books, and musicals. The most popular of the adapted books is the Susan Kay novel, Phantom the fictional in-depth story of Erik from the time of his birth to the end of his life at the Paris Opera House .
The novel begins on the night of Erik's birth. It is said that Erik's mother gives the task of naming her son to the priest, Father Mansart, who visits her shortly after the birth. For the most part, Kay's novel stays in context with Leroux's, but she places the highest priority on portraying the romantic aspects of Erik's life. He falls in love twice throughout the novel, but neither of these occasions truly end happily.
Erik's deformity [ ]
In the Leroux novel, Erik is described as corpse-like and is referred to as having a "death's-head" (human skull) throughout the story. Much like his sunken cheeks, his eyes are also sunken so deep in his skull that all is shown are two eye sockets, except when his yellow eyes glow in the dark. His face is also nose-less with yellowed parchment-like skin that appears to be tightly stretched across his bones, and only a few wisps of ink-black hair are behind his ears and on his forehead.
His mouth is never described in as much detail, but is referred to as a “dead mouth” by Christine, and Erik acknowledges that his mouth is abnormal when lifting up his mask to display ventriloquism, which could possibly imply that Erik's mouth also resembles that of a talking skull. He is also described as being extremely thin, so much so that he resembles a walking skeleton. Christine graphically describes his cold, bony hands, which also either feel or smell like death. There is debate among both English and French speakers as to whether the original French word used here, sentir , was intended by Leroux to mean "smells like" or "feels like,” as the French word is used for both feel and smell depending on the context.
Erik woefully describes himself to Christine as a corpse who is "built up with death from head to foot." According to the Persian, Erik was born with this deformity and was exhibited as le mort vivant in freak shows earlier in his life. Erik sometimes plays up his macabre appearance, such as sleeping in a coffin and dressing up as the Red Death for the masked ball.
The 1920s, the Lon Chaney, Sr. version of the film remains closest to the book in content and in the fact that Erik's face resembles a skull with an elongated nose slit and protruding, crooked teeth. Chaney was a master make-up artist and was considered avant garde for creating and applying Erik's facial makeup design himself. It is said he kept it secret until the first day of filming. The result was allegedly so frightening to the ladies of the time, theaters showing the movie were cautioned to keep smelling salts on hand for the women who fainted in shock.
Several movies based on the novel also vary the deformities (or in the case of Dario Argento 's film, the lack thereof, where Erik was a normal, handsome man raised by rats). In Universal's 1943 adaptation, a poor musician tries to publish his music, and then wrongly accuses the publisher of trying to steal his music. The Phantom character then murders the publisher by strangulation and tries to retrieve his music, only to have his face burned by having etching acid thrown in his face by the publisher's female assistant. The rock opera Phantom of the Paradise has Winslow (the Erik character) get his head caught in a record-press and Robert Englund's horror-version has him selling his soul to Satan and having his face mutilated as a result (this version also has a gruesome variation on the mask, in which Erik is sewing flesh to his face)
In Andrew Lloyd Webber 's musical adaptation (taking a tip from Universal's 1943 spin on the story), only half of Erik's face is deformed (thus the famous half-mask often associated with Erik's appearance.) His show was originally planned to have a full mask and full facial disfigurement, but when the director, Hal Prince , realized that it would make expression onstage very difficult, they halved the mask. The logo featuring a full mask was publicized before the change. The deformity in the musical includes a gash on the right side of his partly balding head with exposed skull tissue, an elongated right nostril, a missing right eyebrow, deformed lips, different coloured eyes, and several red spots that appear to be scabs on the right cheek. It originally took roughly four hours per performance to put the prosthetics on in the original London productions. On Broadway, it was cut to roughly three.
In the 2004 film adaptation Erik's makeup was made to look much less gruesome, with his face looking more like a "sunburn", as many fans like to joke. Instead of a skull-like face, his disfigurement resembles that of a face mildly malformed by a birthmark, which he covers with the mask and a wig. Film Critic Roger Ebert commented that he thought Gerard Butler was made to be too good-looking for the film than his predecessors "in a GQ kind of way", and that his masks were more of a fashion accessory than an attempt to hide his deformities.
Performers [ ]
The Phantom of the Opera has inspired countless variations and adaptions of the story. Erik or an Erik-like character features in most of these.
Original Casts [ ]
Michael Crawford (West End, Broadway, and Los Angeles)
Masachika Ichimura (Japan 1988)
Alexander Goebel (Vienna 1988)
Colm Wilkinson (Toronto 1989)
Mikael Samuelson (Stockholm 1989)
Peter Hofmann (Hamburg 1990)
Anthony Warlow (Australia 1990 and 2007)
Gallery [ ]
- 2 Christine Daaé
- 3 The Phantom of the Opera
- The Phantom of the Opera (Book)
Erik (The Phantom of the Opera)
- Edit source
- View history
- 1.1 According to the Musical and 2004 Film
- 2.1 Popular Causes of the Deformity
- 2.2 Variations on the Mask
- 3 Skills & Abilities
Character Background and Biograph [ ]
Lon Chaney as Erik in the 1925 film adaptation of the film.
In the original novel, few details are given regarding Erik's past, although there is no shortage of hints and implications throughout the book. Erik himself laments the fact that his mother was horrified by his appearance and that his father, a master mason, never saw him.
It is also revealed that "Erik" was not, in fact, his birth name, but one that was given or found "by accident", as Erik himself says in the novel. In the novel, Leroux sometimes calls him "the man's voice"; Erik also refers to himself as "The Opera Ghost", "The Angel of Music", and attends a masquerade as the Red Death. Most of Erik's history is revealed by a mysterious figure, known through most of the novel as The Persian or the Daroga, who had been a local police chief in Persia and who followed Erik to Paris:) some of the rest is discussed in the novel's epilogue. Erik is born in a small town outside of Rouen, France. Born hideously deformed, he is a "subject of horror" for his family and as a result, he runs away as a young boy and falls in with a band of Gypsies, making his living as an attraction in freak shows, where he is known as "le mort vivant" ("the living dead").
During his time with the tribe, Erik becomes a great illusionist, magician and ventriloquist. His reputation for these skills and his unearthly singing voice spreads quickly, and one day a fur trader mentions him to the Shah of Persia.The Shah orders the Persian to fetch Erik and bring him to the palace.The Shah-in-Shah commissions Erik, who proves himself a gifted architect, to construct an elaborate palace, Mazenderan. The edifice is designed with so many trap doors and secret rooms that not even the slightest whisper could be considered private.
The design itself carries sound to myriad hidden locations, so that one never knew who might be listening. At some point under the Shah's employment, Erik is also a political assassin, using a unique noose referred to as the Punjab Lasso.The Persian dwells on the vague horrors that existed at Mazenderan rather than going in depth into the actual circumstances involved. The Shah, pleased with Erik's work and determined that no one else should have such a palace, orders Erik blinded.
Thinking that Erik could still make another palace even without his eyesight, the Shah orders Erik's execution. It is only by the intervention of the daroga (the Persian) that Erik escapes. Erik then goes to Constantinople and is employed by its ruler, helping build certain edifices in the Yildiz-Kiosk, among other things. However, he has to leave the city for the same reason he left Mazenderan: he knows too much. He also seems to have traveled to Southeast Asia, since he claims to have learned to breathe underwater using a hollow reed from the "Tonkin pirates". By this time Erik is tired of his nomadic life and wants to "live like everybody else". For a time he works as a contractor, building "ordinary houses with ordinary bricks". He eventually bids on a contract to help with the construction of the Palais Garnier, commonly known as the Paris Opéra. During the construction he is able to make a sort of playground for himself within the Opera House, creating trapdoors and secret passageways throughout every inch of the theatre.
He even builds himself a house in the cellars of the Opera where he could live far from man's cruelty. Erik has spent twenty years composing a piece entitled Don Juan Triumphant. In one chapter after he takes Christine to his lair, she asks him to play her a piece from his masterwork. He refuses and says, "I will play you Mozart, if you like, which will only make you weep; but my Don Juan, Christine, burns." Eventually, after she has wrenched off his mask and seen his deformed face, he begins to play it. Christine says that at first it seemed to be "one great awful sob," but then became alert to its nuances and power. Upon its completion, he originally plans to go to his bed (which is a coffin) and "never wake up," but by the final chapters of the novel, (during which Erik kidnapps Christine right from the stage during a performance),
Erik expresses his wish to marry Christine and live a comfortable bourgeois life after his work has been completed. He has stored a massive supply of gunpowder under the Opera, and, should she refuse his offer, plans to detonate it. When she acquiesces to his desires in order to save herself, her lover Raoul (who, aided by the Persian, went looking for Christine and fell into Erik's torture chamber), and the denizens of the Opera, we find out that his part of the bargain was to take the Persian and Raoul above ground. He does so with the Persian, but Raoul was kept "a hostage" and was "locked up comfortably, properly chained" in the dungeon under the opera. When he returns, he finds Christine waiting for him, like "a real living fiancee" and he swore she tilted her forehead toward him, and he kissed it. Then he says he was so happy that he fell at her feet, crying, and she cries with him, calling him "poor, unhappy Erik" and taking his hand.
At this point, he is "just a poor dog ready to die for her" and he returns to her the ring she had lost and said that she was free to go and marry Raoul. Erik frees Raoul and he and Christine leave. But before they do, Erik makes Christine promise that when he dies she will come back and bury him. Then she kisses Erik's forehead. Erik dies three weeks later, but not before he goes to visit the Persian and tells him everything, and promises to send him Erik's dearest possessions: the papers that Christine wrote about everything that had happened with her "Angel of Music" and some things that had belonged to her. Christine keeps her promise and returns to the Opera to bury Erik and place the plain gold band he had given her on his finger. Leroux claims that a skeleton bearing such a ring was later unearthed in the Opera cellars.
According to the Musical and 2004 Film [ ]
According to these two sources, Erik was originally an underprivileged child with a knack for magic and illusions. He spent much of his childhood wandering with the travelling circus, being displayed as the "devil's child" to those who attended. However, while performing at the Opera House, a young Madame Giry pities him and takes him in as her own. After this, she hides him in the cellars of the opera house. The film goes into much more depth about this than the musical. However, even so, it is dramatically different (and in many aspects, a simplified version of) biography and background than what has been mentioned.
Erik's Deformity [ ]
In the Leroux novel, Erik is described as corpse-like with no nose; sunken eyes and cheeks; yellow, parchment-like skin; and only a few wisps of ink-black hair covering his head. He is often described as "a walking skeleton", and Christine graphically describes his cold hands.
Lon Chaney, Sr.'s characterization of Erik in the silent film (released in 1925) remains closest to the book in content, in that Erik's face resembles a skull with an elongated nose slit and protruding, crooked teeth. Chaney was a master make-up artist and was considered avant garde for creating and applying Erik's facial makeup design himself. It is said he kept it secret until the first day of filming. The result was allegedly so frightening to the ladies of the time, theaters showing the movie were cautioned to keep smelling salts on hand for the women who fainted in shock.
Several movies based on the novel also vary the deformities (or in the case of Dario Argento's film, the lack thereof, where Erik was a normal, handsome man raised by rats). In Universal's 1943 adaptation, a poor musician tries to publish his music, and then wrongly accuses the publisher of trying to steal his music. The Phantom character then murders the publisher by strangulation and tries to retrieve his music, only to have his face burned by having etching acid thrown in his face by the publisher's female assistant. The rock opera Phantom of the Paradise has Winslow (the Erik character) get his head caught in a record-press and Robert Englund's horror-version has him selling his soul to Satan and having his face mutilated as a result (this version also has a gruesome variation on the mask, in which Erik is sewing flesh to his face)
In Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation (taking a tip from Universal's 1943 spin on the story), only half of Erik's face is deformed (thus the famous half-mask often associated with Erik's appearance.) His show was originally planned to have a full mask and full facial disfigurement, but when the director, Hal Prince, realized that it would make expression onstage very difficult, they halved the mask. The logo featuring a full mask was publicized before the change. The deformity in the musical includes a gash on the right side of his partly balding head with exposed skull tissue, an elongated right nostril, a missing right eyebrow, deformed lips, different coloured eyes, and several red spots that appear to be scabs on the right cheek.
Gerard Butler's less shocking, more romanticized, appearance as Phantom in the 2004 adaptation.
The lyrics in the Phantom's final scene in his lair have sometimes been interpreted to mean that the deformities affect his ability to engage in intercourse since having been questioned by Christine if she had been taken to become "Prey for [his] lust for flesh?" he responds "That fate, which condemns me to wallow in blood/Has also denied me the joys of the flesh." However this has been clarified; the line instead refers to the Phantom's lack of sexual experience as a result of his face.
His ability to engage in intercourse is further demonstrated in the sequel to Lloyd-Webber's show, "Love Never Dies," in which it is revealed that the Phantom and Christine engaged in intercourse the night before her wedding, resulting in her pregnancy. It originally took roughly four hours per performance to put the prosthetics on in the original London productions. On Broadway, it was cut to roughly three. More than one Phantom has described make-up disasters onstage. Michael Crawford recounts a story where he pulled away from the kiss at the end only to see that "[his] lower lip was now hanging off Sarah [Brightman]'s face!". To cover the flub, he pulled her back for another kiss and "took back the lips" and kept that side of his head turned away from the audience. In the 2004 film adaptation Erik's makeup was made to look much less gruesome. Film Critic Roger Ebert commented that he thought Gerard Butler was made to be too good-looking for the film, and that his masks were more of a fashion accessory than an attempt to hide his deformities.
Popular Causes of the Deformity [ ]
In modern times, the deformity has been explained in many ways. In the spin-off 1974 edition, Phantom of the Paradise , his face is crushed in a CD press. Other versions relate his facial scarring to more extreme causes. The two most prominent causes are burns and acid.
Variations on the Mask [ ]
Erik's face is always hidden (the Dario Argento version is the only edition which excludes any facial disfigurement). While in the original and the 1925 film the mask covers the entire face, there are many different takes on this. For example, the 1974 spin-off features a mask which covers only the upper portion of his face (though it also features metal teeth). However, other versions (most notably the musical) feature only a half-face mask. Moreover, some films feature a more gruesome twist; the most popular seems to involve Erik (or the Erik figure) murdering various people and then removing their face or skin and sewing it to his own. The aforementioned twist is seen in the French film classic, Yeux Sans Las Visage (or, more commonly, Eyes Without a Face ).
Skills & Abilities [ ]
Throughout his life, Erik had become quite accomplished in many fields of study, which he has used to both astound and even intimidate. Probably the most well known is his knowledge of music and song, which was likely something he either was taught or self-taught, though this likely leans to the latter. He's also known to be an expert tutor, particularly in teaching Christine Daaé in the art of singing opera. As well as both a musician and opera singer, Erik is also well versed in composing much of his music and even performances, such as Don Juan Triumphant . Aside from his artistic genius, Erik is also an accomplished illusionist and ventriloquist, likely something he learned while either in a band of gypsies or in the circus (Depending on which version of the character is in question). He's capable of using such skills to both amaze and intimidate, but also can use it as a means of escape if necessary. He is also well versed in stealth, which allows him to traverse virtually anywhere without being detected, even being able to infiltrate his own performance at the climax.
Erik's fields of study don't stop there, as he's also well versed in swordsmanship, which he was shown to be able to hold his own against Raoul in the 2004 film, despite his opponent besting him in the cemetery before fleeing with Christine. Should his orders not be carried out or he is overlooked by others, Erik is also adept in the art of intimidation, which he was able to easily do during the Masquerade at the opera house in the 2004 film.
- 1 Christine Daaé
- 2 Erik (The Phantom of the Opera)
- 3 The Phantom of the Opera (1986 Musical)
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The Phantom of the Opera
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Erik , known as The Phantom of the Opera , is the titular character of the 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra ( The Phantom of the Opera ) written by the late Gaston Leroux. He is the titular protagonist of the story and its adaptations of the same name.
Erik is an extremely intelligent and talented musician who lives hidden at an Opera House in Paris because of his deformity. He falls in love with Christine Daaé , a young singer whom he is determined to teach and gain her acceptance and love. In the sequel of the 1986 musical adaptation, Love Never Dies , the Phantom also has a son with Christine named Gustave.
- 1 Portrayals
- 2.2 Musical
- 2.3 Film Adaptations
- 3 Other Media
- 4 Deformity
- 6 External Links
- 7 Navigation
Portrayals [ ]
Erik has been portrayed by several actors over the years, including:
- The late Lon Chaney in the 1925 film.
- The late Claude Rains , who also portrayed Griffin in The Invisible Man , Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood , Herod in The Greatest Story Ever Told , and Jacob Marley in Scrooge , portrayed another version of the character, Erique Claudin , in the 1943 film.
- The late Herbert Lom , who also portrayed Charles Dreyfus in the Pink Panther franchise and Vittorio Corelli in The Pope Must Die , in the 1962 film
- The late William Finley in the 1974 film.
- Steve Harley in the 1985 music video.
- The late Julian Sands , who also played the eponymous character in Warlock and Warlock: The Armageddon , Valmont in Jackie Chan Adventures , Vladimir Bierko in 24 , Miles Castner in Dexter , Jor-El in Smallville , DeFalco in Call of Duty: Black Ops II , Yulish Rabitov in Banshee , Gerald Crane in Gotham and Steve Essex in A Nasty Piece of Work , in the 1998 film.
- Gerard Butler , who also portrayed Set in Gods of Egypt , Clyde Shelton in Law Abiding Citizen , Count Dracula in Dracula 2000 , and Attila in the 2001 miniseries of the same name, in the 2004 film.
Biography [ ]
In the original novel, few details are given regarding Erik's past, although there is no shortage of hints and implications throughout the book. Erik himself laments the fact that his mother was horrified by his appearance and that his father, a master mason, never saw him. It is also revealed that "Erik" was not actually his birth name, but one that was given or found "by accident", as Erik himself says within the work. Leroux sometimes calls him "the man's voice"; Erik also refers to himself as "The Opera Ghost", "The Angel of Music", and attends a masquerade as the Red Death. Most of the character's history is revealed by a mysterious figure, known through most of the novel as The Persian or the Daroga, who had been a local police chief in Persia, following Erik to Paris; other details are discussed in the novel's epilogue, e.g. his birthplace is given as a small town outside of Rouen, France.
Born hideously deformed, he is a "subject of horror" for his family and as a result, he runs away as a young boy and falls in with a band of Gypsies, making his living as an attraction in freak shows, where he is known as "Le Mort Vivant" ("The Living Dead"). During his time with the tribe, Erik becomes a great illusionist, magician, and ventriloquist. His reputation for these skills and his unearthly singing voice spreads quickly, and one day a fur trader mentions him to the Shah of Persia.
After escaping from the Shah's order of execution, Erik finds a place to live beneath a Paris Opera house that is still under construction. Upon the completion of the opera house, Erik planned to retreat to his lair and "never wake up". However, over the course of the novel, he falls in love with Christine Daaé and kidnaps her. Christine's lover, Raoul, comes looking for her with the aid of the Phantom's friend, the Persian. As part of a deal, the Phantom agrees to release Raoul so Christine will marry him. The Phantom does not keep his end of the bargain and keeps Raoul a hostage.
Upon returning to Christine, she helps the Phantom realize the error of his ways. Erik then releases Christine to be with Raoul. Christine promises to return to bury the phantom after he dies. 3 weeks later Erik dies and Christine keeps her promise, burying Erik with the ring he gave her.
Musical [ ]
The plot for the 1986 musical adaptation follows the story of the novel fairly closely with some minor changes. The plot of the musical, like the novel, revolves around Erik's love for Christine and his efforts to be with her. Also like the novel, the musical ends with the Phantom realizing the error of his ways and allowing Christine and Raoul to be together. However, different from the original novel, at the end of the musical the Phantom does not die: after being left by Christine, he just abandons his lair and disappears leaving his mask behind.
Film Adaptations [ ]
Other media [ ].
- The Phantom of the Opera appears in pony form in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic IDW comic book The Return of Queen Chrysalis , in one of the doors in Queen Chrysalis ' castle. Rarity opens his door and he appears on a piano with his mask on his hoof saying "Come, my angel!".
Deformity [ ]
In the Leroux novel, Erik is described as corpse-like with no visible nose; sunken eyes and cheeks; yellow, parchment-like skin; and only a few wisps of ink-black hair covering his head. He is often described as "a walking skeleton", and Christine graphically describes his cold hands.
Lon Chaney's characterization of Erik in the silent film The Phantom of the Opera (1925) remains closest to the book in content, in that Erik's face resembles a skull with an elongated nose slit and protruding, crooked teeth. In this version, Erik is said to have been deformed at birth. Chaney was a masterful make-up artist and was considered avant-garde for creating and applying Erik's facial make-up design himself. It is said that he kept it secret until the first day of filming. The result was allegedly so frightening to the women of the time that theaters showing the movie were cautioned to keep smelling salts on hand to revive those who fainted.
Several movies based on the novel vary the deformities. In Universal's 1943 adaptation, he is disfigured when the publisher's assistant throws etching acid in his face. In the musical horror film Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Winslow (the Phantom character) gets his head caught in a record-press, while the horror version (1989) starring Robert Englund has him selling his soul to Satan and having his face mutilated as a result. This version also has a gruesome variation on the mask, in which Erik is sewing flesh to his face.
In Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation (taking a tip from Universal's 1943 spin on the story), only half of Erik's face is deformed (thus the famous half-mask often associated with Erik's appearance). His show was originally planned to have a full mask and full facial disfigurement, but when the late director Harold Prince realized that it would make expression onstage very difficult, they halved the mask. The logo featuring a full mask was publicized before the change. The deformity in the musical includes a gash on the right side of his partly balding head with exposed skull tissue, an elongated right nostril, a missing right eyebrow, swollen lips, different colored eyes, and a wrinkled, warped right cheek. For the 2004 film adaptation of the musical, this deformity is redesigned to resemble that of a face mildly malformed by a birthmark, rather than a skull-like face, making it look much less gruesome than previous adaptations of the story.
The lyrics in the Phantom's final scene in his lair have sometimes been interpreted to mean that the deformities affect his ability to engage in intercourse since having been questioned by Christine if she had been taken to become "Prey for [his] lust of flesh?", he then responds "That fate, which condemns me to wallow in blood/Has also denied me the joys of the flesh.". However, this has been clarified; the line instead refers to the Phantom's lack of sexual experience as a result of his face. His ability to engage in intercourse is further demonstrated in the sequel to Lloyd Webber's show, Love Never Dies , in which it is revealed that the Phantom and Christine had sex the night before her wedding, resulting in her pregnancy and her giving birth to their son named Gustave.
Gallery [ ]
External Links [ ]
- The Phantom of the Opera on the Heroes Wiki
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Series / The Phantom of the Opera (1990)
- Adaptation Expansion : Several flashbacks are dedicated to Christine and Philippe having been childhood sweethearts, along with depicting the love story between Eric's parents.
- Adaptational Heroism : This work features a kinder, gentler and more sympathetic Phantom than his counterpart in the novel. His mother Belladova also, as in this version, she adored him and thought his disfigured face was "perfection".
- Adapted Out : Averted in the case of Philippe (absent from the show), as this time it's he who Christine falls in love with. But played straight with the absence of nearly every other character known from the novel, except for Madame Giry—and her appearance has been reduced to one line.
- Alpha Bitch : Carlotta , as usual. Also, the flock of chorus girls who bully Christine.
- Amicable Exes : Philippe's bevy of former mistresses are quite happy to see him when he arrives at the Opera House, indicating this.
- Anger Montage : Erik destroying his lair after Christine faints at the sight of his face.
- Asshole Victim : Carlotta can be seen as this regarding all the nasty pranks Erik pulls on her, considering how horrible she is to nearly everyone.
- Beautiful Singing Voice : Christine's, which Erik is enthralled by the moment he hears her, and practically gushes to her about when he introduces himself and offers to be her tutor—"Mademoiselle. . .you have an astonishing voice."
- Big "NO!" : Erik lets out several of these, culminating in a huge one when he's enraged by Christine's humiliation on her debut night (Carlotta tampered with a drink she gave her, causing her to lose her voice.)
- Big "WHY?!" : Erik after Christine faints at the sight of his face.
- Bittersweet Ending : Eric dies, but not without making peace with his father and Christine, knowing that she loves him despite his disfigurement.
- Blatant Lies : Christine tells Erik she was with Carlotta rather than with Philippe, knowing that the truth (which he already knows) will upset him. She feels so guilty about lying to the man responsible for her success that she almost immediately breaks down and confesses the truth.
- Breaking Bad News Gently : When Eric approaches Christine, he gushes over the beauty of her voice and effusively praises her, then apologizes as he hesitantly tells her the one flaw—"forgive me, but it is obviously untrained", this leading into his offer to be her tutor.
- Canon Foreigner : Gerard, Jean-Claude the doorman, Choleti, Belladova (Erik's mother, certainly this Lighter and Softer version).
- The Casanova : Philippe. The chorus girls not only correctly guess the lines he used when flirting with Christine, they all have lockets with his picture, indicating that they were all his mistress at some point. Later, Erik reveals that he dislikes him because, "He comes to the opera for the beauty of faces, not the beauty of music.", and is despondent at losing Christine to someone he feels is unworthy of her. "He doesn't love music, so how could he possibly love her ?"
- Childhood Friend Romance : Christine and Philippe.
- Composite Character : Philippe is merged with Raoul's character in this adaptation and is basically Raoul with Philippe's name.
- Crippling the Competition : Jealous and incensed that Christine has been given the role of Marguerite in Faust , Carlotta gives her a drink supposedly meant to relax her, but instead causes her to lose her voice.
- Death by Despair : Erik becomes very ill after Christine leaves him.
- Dramatic Unmask : Christine pleads with Erik to let her see his face, insisting that she can handle it. It turns out to be so horrifying (though the audience never sees it) that she faints. Later, at the end of the film, as he's dying, she removes the mask herself, so that she can kiss him goodbye, showing that she loves him no matter what she looks like.
- Erik himself. When he realizes that he's lost Christine and is about to be captured, he all but begs Gerard to shoot him. Between this and his subsequent fall from the roof, he dies soon afterwards.
- The Faceless : We never see Erik's face, despite the two times the mask comes off.
- Family Eye Resemblance : How Erik knows Gerard is his father.
- Family Relationship Switcheroo : Erik supposedly thinks Gerard is "some kind of an uncle", as Gerard puts it, but as it turns out, Erik knows Gerard is his father, as they have the same eyes.
- Faint in Shock : Christine faints at the sight of Erik's unmasked face, much to his devastation (she'd promised to love him enough to overlook what he looked like, but to no avail).
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion : Subverted, as Belladova tries to induce a miscarriage—when she's thisclose to her delivery date. It sends her into premature labor (and it's implied that this is what caused his disfigurement.)
- Incurable Cough of Death : Erik's terminally ill state is conveyed to the viewer by his repeated coughing fits, though he's never shown bringing up blood.
- Informed Attractiveness : The beauty of Christine's voice, which Erik goes on ad nauseam about.
- Informed Flaw : Carlotta's awful voice.
- Interclass Romance : Child Christine was a servant in child Philippe's house, as was her father. Their budding friendship enraged his grandmother so much that she sent Christine and her father away.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy : Erik could have easily sent Philippe off the roof to his death, but saves him because of Christine's entreaties—the Death Glare he gives Philippe afterwards makes it clear that this is the only reason he did it.
- Ladykiller in Love : Philippe is implied to be quite the womanizer—a group of six chorus girls not only correctly guess the lines he used when flirting with Christine, they show her that they all have lockets with his picture, indicating that they were all his mistress at some point—but he is clearly head-over-heels in love with Christine. It's implied that Philippe adopted his flirtatious ways as a way of covering and/or coping with his seemingly hopeless devotion to his family's former servant girl: Philippe: "I have loved her my whole life, Gerard, my whole life! She is my life. The Count de Chagny you knew doesn't exist anymore; he never did!"
- Let's Duet : Christine and the Phantom during her lessons, but most impressively when she is onstage as Marguerite in Faust . The dying Phantom drags himself up to his box in the theatre, and the duet they share is so passionate the celluloid is lucky to survive.
- Like Parent, Like Spouse : It seems that part of the reason Erik loves Christine so much is because she looks and sounds just like his mother Belladova, who unlike most versions of this story, adored him and thought his face was perfect.
- Lighter and Softer : To most versions. Certainly as far as Erik's characterization goes.
- Love at First Note : A variation as Erik is clearly enthralled by Christine's voice the minute he hears it, but he falls in love with her over the course of their singing lessons.
- Love Triangle : An interesting version in that Christine has no problem admitting that she does love Erik, just not in the same manner that she does Philippe, but Philippe isn't too thrilled about this either.
- Luke, I Am Your Father : Gerard finally admits this to Erik, who tells him that he already knew: "My eyes. . .they're not her eyes, they're yours. "
- Manly Tears : Erik wails in agony after Christine faints at the sight of his face.
- Meaningful Echo : The first time Christine sees Erik's face, she faints. The second time, she removes the mask herself and kisses him without hesitation, showing that she loves him no matter what.
- Mirror Scare : Carlotta is sitting at her vanity applying makeup when Erik purposefully strides into the room as casually as if he belongs there (very significant considering how stealthy he's been previously). She freezes in terror as he promptly empties a suitcase full of rats all over her.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent : You can count on one hand the number of people who even try to sound like they're from Paris.
- Nothing Is Scarier : We never see Erik's face but it's apparently horrifying enough to make Christine faint the first time she does.
- Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date : What Phillipe takes Christine on after her performance at the bistro.
- Piet� Plagiarism : How Gerard holds the dying Erik.
- The Power of Love : The realization that Christine does love him is enough for Erik to revive from his mysterious illness to sing a magnificent duet with her.
- Pretty Boy : Philippe. His hair's almost as long as Christine's!
- Rage Against the Reflection : Erik claims that his eyes "are the only part of my face I can look at in a mirror without wanting to break the glass".
- Scenery Porn : The miniseries actually got to film most of its scenes in the Opera Garnier itself, and takes every opportunity to show off the beauty of the building.
- Sexy Discretion Shot : Christine and Philippe go for a romantic stroll in the woods. They stop to embrace as the scene fades out. When it fades back in, they're now walking out of the woods, both looking rather disheveled.
- Show Within a Show : All of the operas performed— Norma , La Traviata , Faust —are real.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts : Choleti and Carlotta.
- Suicide by Sea : What Erik's mother attempts after Gerard tells her he can't marry her.
- True Beauty Is on the Inside : Although Christine initially faints at the sight of the Phantom's face, she gets over it and by the movie's end, is able to remove his mask and kiss him without flinching, showing that she knows he's a good person deep down. (Even though while he isn't nearly as bad as his theatrical incarnation, he still murders several people who dare to venture into his lair and terrorizes Carlotta much in the same way as he did in the show.)
- Erik too, in a much sadder version. He destroys his lair after Christine faints at the sight of his face, then spends most of the rest of the film in despondence after Christine escapes, not helped by the fact that he becomes physically ill as well.
Alternative Title(s): The Phantom Of The Opera
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Phantom of the Opera’s Original Ending Was Even More Tragic
Phantom of the Opera ends with a chase scene, but the original ending was more powerful and poignant.
Six decades before Andrew Lloyd Webber made his musical adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera , the titular character was best remembered for his terrifying appearance in the 1925 film. Lon Chaney, an early Hollywood legend nicknamed "Man of 1000 Faces" for the incredible makeup used in films like London After Midnight and The Hunchback of Notre Dame , saved his most iconic makeup when playing the Opera Ghost. Despite the character making his mark in cinema history, Chaney's Phantom received an ending that differed from the source material.
The film concludes with an angry mob chasing The Phantom -- real name Erik -- from his lair and into the streets of Paris before killing him. While being chased by an angry mob became standard in horror movies like Frankenstein and The Wolf Man , this ending was added on after audiences reacted poorly to the original version when shown in previews.
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The first ending turns out more like the novel's end, where the titular character kidnaps Christine, the woman he loves, and threatens to blow up the Opera House if she doesn't marry him. She shows him a moment compassion and agrees, and her expression of pity opens Erik's heart, so he sees the error of his ways. Before the angry mob arrives to the lair, he dies sitting at his organ of a broken heart. Though he did kill people and haunted the Opera House, the mob goes from angry to somber and pay their respects.
Test audiences and Universal Pictures didn't like that the supposed villain of the film was given a redemption arc and died peacefully, so they returned to the set to shoot the new climax. Director Rupert Julian wasn't even brought back to direct the scene. Instead, they brought in Edward Sedgwick.
The newly added ending occurs after Christine agrees to marry The Phantom, and he releases her fiancée Raoul de Chagny and Inspector Ledoux from his trap. Once they are free, the mob storms the lair, and The Phantom takes Christine on a carriage ride before the mob saves her and get him.
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By removing his redemption, it takes away from what made the novel compelling and made The Phantom one of the most interesting Universal Monsters . Had that ending stayed the way it originally was, it would have gone down as one of the most poignant moments in horror movie history.
The Phantom being killed in a big action scene became the norm for subsequent adaptations. Finally, in Lloyd Webber's musical, a similar ending to the book's was used to redeemed The Phantom. Since then, Erik's redemption arc has become the standard when concluding the story of The Phantom of the Opera.
KEEP READING: Every Phantom of the Opera Film Ranked, According to Critics
The Phantom of the Opera
Gaston leroux, everything you need for every book you read., joseph buquet quotes in the phantom of the opera.
“He is extraordinarily thin and his black coat hangs loosely off his skeletal frame. His eyes are so deep-set that you cannot make out his pupils: all you can see are two big black holes, as in a skull. His skin is stretched over his bone structure like a drumhead, and is not white but an ugly yellow. His nose is almost non-existent when seen sideways; and this absence is a horrible thing to behold. As for his hair, it consists of no more than three or four long dark strands on his forehead and behind his ears.”
The Phantom of the Opera
58 pages • 1 hour read
A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.
- Prologue-Chapter 4
- Chapters 5-8
- Chapters 9-12
- Chapters 13-17
- Chapters 18-21
- Chapter 22-Epilogue
- Symbols & Motifs
- Important Quotes
- Essay Topics
Erik / The Opera Ghost
Erik is the titular phantom and main antagonist of the story who develops into a tragic character. The text introduces Erik through his persona as the Opera Ghost, a figure more of legend than a real man. Erik torments the Opera under this disguise, extorting money from the managers and wreaking havoc amongst the superstitious artists. Raoul, who only knows Erik secondhand, perceives him as a one-dimensional monster, a murderer, and lunatic kidnapper who abuses Christine’s impressionability. Christine and the Persian—however frightened they are of him—know that Erik is more complex and feels a full range of emotions. Erik has a history of violence and unchecked cruelty in countries from Persia to India, but after the Persian saved Erik’s life, he hasn’t directly killed anyone himself, though he continues to play dangerous games that end in the fatalities of Joseph Buquet and Philippe de Chagny.
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The phantom of the opera: 10 things you didn’t know about the opera ghost.
The Phantom of the Opera is a classic novel-turned-musical-turned-feature-film, but despite this, there are still many things to know about the ghost.
From theater to movie adaptation, The Phantom of the Opera is a world-class musical phenomenon that has given its audience the surreal experience of love, music, and thrills, all in one performance. Erik, the main character in the story, who is more commonly known as the Opera Ghost or the Phantom, is a personality to be unraveled.
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The Phantom is more than just a disfigured character: he has layers and layers of secrets hiding within the walls of the Paris Opera House. Here are 10 things most fans don’t know about the Opera Ghost.
He Helped Build The Opera House
Erik was an architect in his earlier days. This is also the reason why he is familiar with the construction of the building and its inner structure. He knows where all the trap-doors are located, the secret passages that lead to the cellar, as well as the underground maze beneath it, where he currently resides.
The Phantom undoubtedly has control over the previous management that handled the opera house. He had a lot of design input and even to this day, he has the upper-hand on how the program will go.
He Was Good Friends With The Persian
The Phantom and The Persian are secretly friends and Erik is indebted to him for saving his life years ago. The film did not introduce the character of the Persian , instead, they gave the background story to another character.
Erik worked for someone in the past who wanted him dead after rendering his service. He was able to escape because The Persian made it look like he was the corpse found by the Caspian Sea. Since then, Erik never went back and hasn’t spoken with The Persian in public.
He Knows The Trick Of The Siren
In one of the narrations of The Persian, he said that Erik was able to survive the water because he learned the trick of the siren from the Tonkin pirates, which was how to breathe underwater for a long time.
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This is also probably the reason why the Phantom lives near a lake. He uses it to his advantage so no one can enter his dominion without crossing it. And when one does, they have to deal with the sirens or the other creatures living in it.
He Is Also Known As The Red Death
In the masked ballroom scene, The Phantom crashes the party in his bright red suit and cloak and calls himself The Red Death. Armed with a sword, which is actually nonexistent in the novel, he threatens everyone and picks a fight with Raoul.
In the same scene in the novel, he abducts Christine and brings her to his hideout. The costume symbolizes Erik’s greed and jealousy, as he finally finds out that Christine and Raoul are secretly engaged. It was also the first time he wore it in the movie.
He Keeps A Dead Wife
The Phantom is known to have an unhealthy obsession with his protégé, Christine Daaé , so when she kissed him for the first time, it was heaven-sent for him. In one account, Erik narrated this scene to The Persian.
He said he is dying of love and for the first time, he kissed a woman — particularly, he kissed Christine alive. In the movie, we see the Phantom with a mannequin of Christine dressed in a bridal gown, in his cave. This must explain what he meant when he said he kissed her alive.
He Always Stays Underground
In the scene where Christine and Raoul went upstairs to confess their love for each other, they ran and played with Apollo and the other statues of the gods looking down upon them. They were like children at play, without having any cares, for once, about The Opera Ghost.
Raoul, suddenly worried that Erik might catch them, told Christine that they might get into trouble when he finds out about their relationship. The young lady said that The Phantom never goes anywhere in the building above ground. The whole underground, however, and everything in it, belongs to him.
He Receives 20,000 Francs Monthly
After the old managers left their positions, they also passed on to the new ones the responsibility of complying with the Opera Ghost’s demands, although these new managers are quite stubborn and choose to resist Erik’s orders.
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In their manifesto or book which contains the rules of the opera house, an order written in red ink (some say blood), states that the management must pay the Opera Ghost 20,000 francs a month. They also have to keep Box Five reserved only for him, even though he never appears.
He Composes His Own Songs
Aside from being Christine Daaé’s music teacher, The Phantom sings and composes his own songs, as well. He has created several musical compositions, but his most favorite is Don Juan Triumphant, which he dedicates to when Christine decides whether she wants to marry him or not.
Erik’s music has had a huge impact on Christine’s singing career. In one of the songs in the movie, it was said that what people usually hear when the prima donna sings is the voice of The Phantom and that the young lady is just a mask.
He Was Called "The Living Corpse" In A Fair
Everyone knows that The Phantom has unspeakably hideous features that drive people away from him. He ran away from home as a kid because he did not have a good relationship with his parents and was found and brought to a fair where he was displayed in a sideshow as a living corpse.
This made him a staple personality in the carnival. In the film, he was shown as being caged as a child and people surrounding him, calling him the devil’s child. Madame Giry, then a young girl, helped Erik escape.
He Took Part In Political Assassinations
When Erik was hired by the Sultan of Asia Minor, he became a part of several political assassinations. He was a skilled fighter and as an employee of the sultan, he did most of his dirty work.
This could be the reason why he is well-versed in different methods of killing, particularly the use of ropes. Both in the film and novel, the Phantom was seen using ropes and nooses to hang men and catch his enemies by the neck unguarded. This is why both in the movie and novel , Viscount Raoul was always told to put his hand up.
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Discover the real history behind 'The Phantom of the Opera'
Learn about the myths and legends that inspired the classic musical.
The Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your... history book? He could be, or at least inside a book of legends. The story of a masked, disfigured Paris Opera House dweller who puts an ingenue under his musical spell sounds like the stuff of myths. But stories of a chandelier crash and a ghost at the opera house in Paris circulated long before The Phantom of the Opera , now set to close in February 2023, became the longest-running Broadway show and third-longest-running West End show in history.
Compoer Andrew Lloyd Webber based the show on a 1910 novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux. And he based his novel on multiple spooky events in the Palais Garnier, the opera house where the Phantom book and musical are set.
Some of the stories of people, places, and events that inspired The Phantom of the Opera are true. Others are probably not, but they're fun legends that Leroux immortalized and Webber later made famous with his iconic score. While no one knows exactly how true these stories are, here's how they inspired Leroux to create the tale that haunts and thrills audiences over a century later, and how Webber made them his own.
Experience these tales now before The Phantom of the Opera closes on Broadway.
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Is The Phantom of the Opera based on a true story?
Yes and no — the plot of The Phantom of the Opera is fictional, but parts are inspired by true stories and legends. While everything in the musical did not actually happen, many elements of the show (and the novel it's based on) are taken from real stories of what happened at a Paris opera house. For example, there was actually a devastating chandelier accident, and there are many rumors of a ghostly presence haunting the theatre.
Read more below to find out what true (and ghost) stories inspired the record-breaking show, and see them on stage before The Phantom of the Opera closes.
The chandelier crash in Phantom was inspired by a true event.
The Act 1 finale, during which a one-ton chandelier comes crashing down onto the stage, is one of the most iconic moments in The Phantom of the Opera musical. It's thrilling to watch live, and it was inspired by a real tragedy at the Palais Garnier. Contrary to popular belief, though, it wasn't actually the chandelier that fell. On May 20, 1896, a performance of the opera Helle was underway when a counterweight, one of multiple which held the chandelier up, broke loose and fell through the ceiling.
One person was killed, and several others were injured. Forensic investigators later said a nearby electrical wire probably overheated and melted the steel cable holding up the counterweight, causing its fall. In The Phantom of the Opera book and musical, the Phantom cuts the whole chandelier loose during the curtain call of the opera Il Muto , in order to exact revenge on Christine for falling in love with Raoul instead of him. Luckily, no one in the musical dies from the crash.
The Paris Opera House really has an underground lake.
Yes, the Palais Garnier actually has an underground lake! In the Phantom musical and book, the lake is the centerpiece of the Phantom's lair. A feat of theatrical magic transforms the Broadway stage into the lake, on which the Phantom and Christine ride on a canoe amid the mist, as he sings the music of the night.
Legend goes that a faceless man (and some fish) once lived in the lake. Leroux heard the rumor and ran with it. In reality, the lake looks more like a sewer and had a much more practical purpose: keeping well and steam pump water away while the opera house foundation was being built. The only occupants of the "lake" as of late are a single white catfish (the opera house staff's unofficial pet) and French firefighters, who practice swimming in the dark there. We wonder if they've ever heard music coming from seemingly nowhere while doing so...
The Phantom is based on a real ghost story.
The many legends that inspired the Phantom are shrouded in as much mystery as the character himself. One story goes that in 1873, a stage fire destroyed the Paris Opera company's old venue, the Salle Le Peletier. (That part is true.) A ballerina died and her fiancé, a pianist, was disfigured. Legend has it that he retreated to the underground of the Palais Garnier, the company's new venue, and lived there until he died. Is he the same faceless man that supposedly lived in the lake? That's uncertain, but it's clear how these legends inspired the Phantom's appearance and living situation in Leroux's book.
Another rumor that inspired Leroux is the story of a ghost who haunts the Palais Garnier. Not only did the tale inspire him, but Leroux became obsessed with proving that the ghost was real. In the prologue to The Phantom of the Opera novel, he talks about the mysterious disappearance of one Vicomte de Chagny, who disappeared to Canada for 15 years without a trace. When he finally returned to Paris, he immediately went to the Palais and asked for a free opera ticket.
Leroux goes on to claim that Chagny and his brother were fighting over Christine Daaé (a fictional character), insinuating that a "tragedy" happened between the two. Since the Vicomte is clearly the inspiration for Christine's childhood friend and lover, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, in Leroux's novel, it appears he believed the brother is the ghost, who was killed in some sort of tussle and now haunts the shadowy corners of the Palais Garnier.
Though the ghost's presence is hearsay — or, according to some sources, the opera house ghost is actually a jilted old woman — Leroux firmly believed the ghost is real. He also claimed that a body was unearthed below the Palais Garnier, which belonged to the would-be ghost and proved his story. (The fact that the revolutionary French Commune government used the Palais basement to hold prisoners is a somewhat more likely explanation for the body.) After all that, it's almost ironic that the titular character of The Phantom of the Opera isn't an actual ghost, but he kept the name "The Phantom" for his otherworldly, ghostly presence.
Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote Christine Daaé based on his real love story.
Christine Daaé is a fully fictional character, but some researchers say she was inspired by Christina Nilsson, a Swedish soprano who enjoyed a 20-year career as an acclaimed international opera singer. Other accounts say that Christine was partly inspired by a ballerina named Nanine Dorival, though no one knows for sure. Dorival (along with an acquaintance of Leroux's named Madame la Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac) is also said to have inspired the character of Meg Giry, as Dorival and Giry's mothers are both boxkeepers.
What's certain is that Webber's real-life romance inspired how he'd adapt Christine's character for the musical 70 years later. When he was writing The Phantom of the Opera , Webber was married to Sarah Brightman, a classical soprano who he'd met and married after she starred in his musical Cats in the West End.
He wrote the role of Christine for Brightman, composing the character's songs to fit her vocal range. After she originated the role in the West End, Webber naturally wanted Brightman to do so on Broadway, too. The Actor's Equity union refused at first, saying he should cast an American actor and that international Broadway leads had to be major stars. But love conquered all — Webber insisted, and he came to a compromise with Equity that he'd cast an American lead in his next London production. Webber and Brightman eventually divorced, but her influence on the role remains forever.
The Phantom of the Opera love triangle comes from a legend.
One of the inspirations for the main characters' love triangle is mentioned above, about how two brothers supposedly fought over a woman named Christine. There's another spooky story, though, that is said to have inspired Leroux. According to legend, a ballet dancer named Boismaison fell for the aforementioned ballerina Nanine Dorival. However, a French sergeant, Monsieur Mauzurier, also loved her, and he took it upon himself to get Boismaison out of the picture.
Boismaison had willed his bones to the Paris Opera in the hopes that he'd stay near his lover even after he died. According to a now-debunked legend, they honored his wishes and held onto his bones, even using his skeleton as a prop in Le Freischütz , an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. Nevertheless, the fabled love triangle inspired that of Raoul, the Phantom, and Christine. With source material as bizarre as this, it's no wonder that The Phantom of the Opera 's love story became a Gothic horror for the ages.
Originally published on Sep 29, 2022 13:00
Analysis of Erik, Phantom of the Opera Using Two Contrasting Personality Theories
The tremendously popular and well-known Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical production of The Phantom of the Opera was based on the French novel Le Fantome de l'Opera written by Gaston Leroux in1910 (Leroux, 1910/1990). The original novel gave little direct details with respect to Erik’s past; what was abundant however were hints and implications about the character’s life history throughout the book (Leroux, 1910/1990).
The character Erik will be described below based on the translated work of Leroux (1910/1990), followed by an analysis of his personality using concepts derived from (1) the Freudian theory of psychoanalysis, and (2) the Skinnerian radical behaviorism concept. These two theorists were chosen because they represent polar opposites on how personality is viewed. While Freud maintained that the unconscious is the underlying driving force from which personality develops, Skinner rejected all non-observable parameters such as thoughts, feelings, emotions, and the unconscious in his scientific analysis of human behavior.
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Freud’s emphasis on personality development was on the continuous struggle between the id and the superego, and how successfully the ego can manage a healthy balance between them. Freud also determined 5 psychosexual stages that must be negotiated and satisfied during childhood development, failure on doing so will result in aberrant personality traits. Skinner, however, believed that all behavior, and hence personality, are learned as a function of environmental factors.
A behavior that is reinforced will likely to be repeated, one that is punished will most likely not. He maintained that genetic predispositions allow humans to react to stimuli within a certain range, and where within that range our behavior falls is determined by how we are shaped by the influence of the environment we find ourselves. In this paper, the major differences in how those two theorists might interpret Erik’s personality will be discussed. The Character Erik Erik was born in a small town on the outskirts of Rouen, France.
Hideously deformed at birth, his mother was horrified by his appearance and his father refused to even look at him. Tortured by ridicules and spite from his own mother, he ran away as a young boy and was adopted by a band of travelling Gypsies. He earned his living by performing in freak shows, where he was labeled as the living death. Despite his monstrous appearance, Erik was an extremely talented individual. In addition to possessing a most eerie and supernatural singing voice, he gained great skills as an illusionist, magician, and ventriloquist.
A fur trader recognized Erik’s gifted abilities and mentioned it to the Shah of Persia, who then ordered to have him brought to his palace. Erik soon proved to the Shah his knowledge in architecture, and the Shah commissioned him to design and build Mazenderan, an elaborate palace full of trap doors, hidden passages, and secret rooms such that no one could be certain of his/her privacy: someone would be listening or spying at anytime and anywhere. The Shah could practically vanish from a room in an instant and reappear elsewhere in utter secrecy.
During Erik’s tenure with the Shah, he was also employed as a political assassin, carrying out the Shah’s orders by strangling his victims using an unique noose known as the Punjab Lasso. Pleased with his work but determined that no other such palaces should be built and owned by anyone else (not to mention Erik and his workers were the only ones that had intimate knowledge of the palace’s layout), the Shah first ordered Erik and his workers be blinded but then realized he could build another one even without his eyesight, ordered their executions.
By the intervention of the local police chief (the Persian), Erik escaped to Constantinople and was employed by its’ ruling Sultan to build his grand palace of a similar design. Alas, he was later forced to escape Constantinople for the same reason he fled Persia. Erik’s next destination was most likely to be somewhere in Southeast Asia, where he decided that he was tired of his nomadic lifestyle. Eventually, he returned to Paris and successfully bided on a contract to help build the Paris Opera. Using his extensive experiences from the past, the theater was built with
trap doors and secret passageways throughout. In addition, Erik built himself a palace, or a playhouse, of a sort deep within the cellar of the opera house so that he did not have to live amongst the cruelty of humankind. He spent the next 20 years or so in his “home” writing and composing music of various sorts. At about the same time, a beautiful and technically talented chorus girl by the name of Christine Daae, who had lost all passion to sing and perform due to her father’s passing, somehow heard Erik’s singing and music in her dressing room at late nights.
Thinking that must have been an “angel” sent by her father, Christine took singing lessons from the “Angel of Music” during the nights and later emerged as a virtuoso singer better than she ever was. By now, Erik was secretly in love with Christine, and one night he revealed himself to her from behind a mirror in her dressing room, wearing a mask, and led her through the mazes and labyrinths into his domain in the cellar of the theater.
It turned out that Erik had been composing his masterpiece for the last 20 years, and realizing his genius, Christine asked if he would play a part from the masterpiece for her, and Erik refused as the piece was yet incomplete. Erik’s original plan upon the completion of his masterpiece was to go to his bed, which was in fact a coffin, and fall into an eternal sleep. Feeling the obvious pain from Erik and yearning to see his face, Christine ripped the mask off, and saw the horrible disfigurement. Another person vying for Christine’s affection was the Vicomte Raoul de Chagney.
A childhood friend of Christine, he was captivated by her new-found voice, so unearthly passionate that led Raoul to fall madly in love with her. In the final chapters of Leroux’s novel, Erik kidnapped Christine straight from the stage during one of the performances, showed her the completed masterpiece, and asked her to marry him instead of the Vicomte so that the two of them can live a happy life, rather than him simply slip way into his “bed” and dies. If she were to refuse, however, Erik would detonate the massive amount of gun powder he had secretly accumulated under the opera house over the years.
Christine submitted to his request in order to save herself, unknowing Raoul had fallen accidentally into Erik’s torture chamber while searching the opera house for her with the help of the Persian and the opera house staffs. Acknowledging her acceptance, Erik gave Christine a gold ring and kissed her cheek. He was so overwhelmed with joy that he fell to his knees and cried uncontrollably. Seeing the genius with a tortured soul finding happiness at last, Christine cried with Erik. Erik then surprised Christine by saying that he is now willing to let her go, and she was free to marry Raoul.
Erik freed Raoul and let them both leave the dungeon, but not before making Christine promise to come back and bury him upon his death. Christine kissed Erik on his forehead, and disappeared into the night with Raoul. Carrying his most cherished possession, the diary kept by Christine detailing everything that had happened between them, Erik went to the Persian and told him the whole story, with the hand-written diary as proof. Erik died three weeks afterwards. Christine kept her promise and returned to the opera house, but before the burial, she slipped the gold ring Erik had given to her three weeks earlier onto his finger.
Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Approach to Erik’s Personality The core concept of psychoanalysis developed by Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) is the significant influence the unconscious mind has on the conscious (Burkitt, 2010; Freud, 1923/1990). The unconscious is a vast reservoir of latent thoughts and memories (real, repressed, or false) that are not associated with the activities of the conscious mind, but those activities consciously executed are in fact directed and driven by the unconscious (Burkitt, 2010; Freud, 1923/1990).
In the novel, Erik was able to utilize this power of the unconscious to strategically place himself in the mind of Christine, letting her to believe that he was sent by her deceased father and thus masquerading as the “Angel of Music”. According to Freud, the oral stage is the first stage of psychosexual development (Freud, 1923/1990; van Beekum, 2009). In addition to providing nourishment, the mother’s breasts provide a source of love, pleasure, and security to the infant (Freud, 1923/1990; Wagg & Pridmore, 2004).
Weaning would therefore create a stressful situation for the infant: giving up the comfort feelings the mother’s breasts have provided. Some infants are easier than others to succeed in negotiating and resolving this conflict between the id and the ego (Freud, 1923/1990; van Beekum, 2009) by redirecting their psychosexual energy (libido) toward other challenges. For those infants that do not, the psychosexual development theory affirms they will develop into orally fixated adults (Freud, 1923/1990; van Beekum, 2009; Wagg & Pridmore, 2004).
Although it was not detailed in the novel, Erik most likely was never breast-fed as his mother loathed his appearance and his father refused to even look at him. It is therefore reasonable to assume that as an adult, Erik would have an extreme case of oral fixation, constantly seeking for the pleasure and comfort that would have been derived from oral stimulations denied during infancy. In theory, adult manifestations of oral-stage fixation include nail-biting, eating, chewing, smoking, and alcoholism (Wagg & Pridmore, 2004).
Similarly, they may derive psychological pleasure from talking and constantly seeking knowledge (Wagg & Pridmore, 2004). Although Leroux did not detail Erik’s personal habits, we can certainly see that he was constantly looking for and acquiring knowledge and skills, being an accomplished magician and ventriloquist, a brilliant architect and master builder, a royal assassin, a music genius with a most haunting, unearthly, yet passionate voice (Leroux, 1910/1990).
Instead of talking, Erik’s obsession with oral stimulation was manifested as singing: singing to himself, hoping to seek solace throughout his life; and later to Christine as well as giving her vocal lessons. It therefore appears to me that the desirable, pleasurable substance he chose to keep in his mouth was music in the form of his own voice. The first, and most psychoanalysts would argue to also be the most important, ego defense mechanism identified by Freud was what he called repression: threatening thoughts and ideas are repressed, or pushed back into the unconscious (Freud, 1923/1990; Rosenzweig, 1943; Wagg & Pridmore, 2004).
Repression can therefore be viewed as a barrier used by the conscious mind to block out specific (usually painful, unpleasant, or inappropriate) thoughts arising from the unconscious. In the phallic stage (around age 4 years) during which a child’s sexual energy is focused on the genitals, the aggressive thoughts in the Oedipus complex about the same sex parents are learned to be repressed (but must be resolved later) by the developing boy (Adler, 2010; Rosenzweig, 1943; Wagg & Pridmore, 2004). One of those feelings the boy represses is the fear of castration, which will be discussed below.
Base on a Greek legend in which Oedipus, the Thebes king who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother, the term “Oedipus complex” was used by Freud to describe a boy’s sexual desires toward his mother and rivalries toward his father (Adler, 2010; van Beekum, 2009). Freud theorized that such thoughts and feelings and the psychological defenses against such thoughts and feelings are of critical importance in personality development as they will become the fundamental reaction pattern the individual relies on throughout life (Adler, 2010; van Beekum, 2009).
Freud noted that during this phallic stage when children begin to explore their genitals – boys with their penises, at the same time they are also concerned with their fathers’ penises and girls who do not have them. Freud theorized that while the boy is struggling with his intense sexual desire toward his mother, he must have also realized that he does not have the physical strength to overpower his father; he fears the father may castrate him as an act of revenge, leaving him without a penis and therefore resembling a girl – Freud termed this unconscious fear “castration anxiety” (Adler, 2010; van Beekum, 2009).
In order to resolve this conflict successfully, the developing boy pledges allegiance to his father. He tries to become a person like his father, and by assuming his characteristics, the boy replaces his father to become the authoritative, father-of-the-household figure and so, by extension, achieves sexual relations with his mother while diminishing the fear of being castrated (Adler, 2010; van Beekum, 2009).
In Erik’s case, I believe his total alienation from his family as well as the society at-large led to a totally unresolved Oedipus complex: he felt no love for his mother, he did not know his father at all, and therefore no parent to identify with. Failing to identify himself with one parent, Erik therefore was incapable of moral internalization. He did whatever made him feel good at the time; he neither feared nor knew punishment because it did not matter what he does or does not do, the results were inevitably the same.
In other words, his repressive defense mechanism, neither learned nor developed in childhood, was practically non-existent. Having no basic repressive skills and thus letting the thanatos force of the id to freely and repeatedly surface to the conscious and gratified, it is no wonder why Erik experienced frequent negative emotional outbursts, lack of remorse as an assassin, and an irrational, maniacal fixation on whatever he wished for, specifically, Christine. In addition, his obsession with Christine may be a way Erik dealt with impulses that he knew was unacceptable even to himself.
I believe he unconsciously identified himself with Christine, both talented and tormented but with the exception of her being accepted publically and he loathed. Because he could never be accepted by the public regardless of how talented he was, teaching Christine all he knew and thus controlling her may be a way Erik thought he could live his imaginary “good life” through her success. By allowing Erik to kiss her on her cheek, a pivotal moment in the novel was created as Christine appeared to have melted his cold heart.
Although Maslow’s self-actualization theory may view Erik’s reaction as a peak experience, I do not believe that to be the case. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs placed self-actualization on the very top of the ladder and can only be achieved after all other needs, physiological, safety, belongingness and love, and esteem, are satisfied (Hanley & Abell, 2002). Clearly, none of Erik’s life needs were even close to being satisfied, and therefore the innate process of self-actualization (Hanley & Abell, 2002) must have been foreign to him.
I believe Erik’s reaction was another manifestation of the uncontrolled id surfacing to the conscious. This time, however, it was the eros force of the id that surfaced. This tremendous emotional release of positive energy, or catharsis, was so foreign yet comforting to him that he b roke down and cried uncontrollably. This was most likely the very first time the eros and not the thanatos force of his id was gratified as he was so accustomed to in his life up to that very moment; he finally felt the positive aspect of what it is to be human.
The sensation of having the eros drive satisfied was so much more pleasurable than having the thanatos drive satisfied, his ego decide to choose to release Raoul and free Christine, allowing them to be married. B. F. Skinner’s Radical Behaviorism Approach to Erik’s Personality In stark contrast to personality theorist such as Freud and Jung, Burrhus Frederick Skinner (1904 – 1990) viewed personality as a result of previous history of reinforcement (such as rewards and punishments) and that personality is determined and controlled by environmental factors (Moore, 2011).
Therefore, in order to understand the behavior of a person, we must first uncover the set of environmental conditions where the behavior is exhibited. Skinner reasoned that in the presence of a discriminative stimulus, a characteristic response is elicited (Moore, 2011). Depending on how the response is reinforced, the behavior of the individual toward that discriminative stimulus is gradually shaped (Moore, 2011). In his principles of operant conditioning, Skinner emphasized how behavior can be changed by manipulating the reinforcing consequence (Moore, 2011).
Skinner strongly rejected mentalism; terms such as personality, psychical structures (Freud’s id, ego, and superego), needs, and instinct were of no meanings to Skinner and instead, he favored the directly observable behaviors and emphasized on the function of the behavior in his research (Moore, 2011). According to Skinner, there is no free will (Moore, 2011). In Skinner’s view, what we see as personality is basically a group of responses to the environment, and if the responses are rewarded, then they are more likely to be repeated.
Freud viewed the id as the instinctual driving force from the undifferentiated core of personality while Skinner asserted that what we see as a driving force is really humans’ innate susceptibility to reinforcement (Moore, 2011). Rather than seeing the ego as how humans respond to the world according to the reality principle, Skinner reasoned that all responses are learned, and different behavior will be exhibited by an individual under different circumstances.
Refuting the Freudian concept of the superego as a set of internalized social rules and values that guide the ego in the continual struggle and negotiation with the id, Skinner believed that behavior is learned from how the society punishes such behavior: we simply control those behaviors that are not allowed by the society – exhibiting such behaviors will lead to unpleasant consequences. Therefore, Skinner interpreted the Freudian ego defense mechanism as avoidance to conditioned aversive stimulations, or punishments (Moore, 2011).
In terms of genetic predispositions, Skinner suggests that genes (biological factors) provide an individual a range of response capabilities, but it is the environment that selects for the type of response that best suits the individual’s survival. Skinner also did not deny the existence of internal processes such as emotions and thoughts; he viewed them as individual characteristics caused by the environment and as such they are irrelevant in the explanation and the understanding of behavior (Moore, 2011).
Erik appeared to have been genetically gifted with an extremely wide range of response capabilities as well as a talent in knowledge acquisition. Born grotesquely deformed, the environmental factor that selected him came in the form of a band of wondering Gypsies. Exploiting his deformity for monetary gain, they actually provided Eric a chance to survive into adulthood. Because he was gifted as a learner, he mastered the Gypsies’ many different performing skills and incorporated them into his own routines, further securing his acceptance within the band – the members could reliably depend on him as a money maker.
His childhood experience thus far conditioned him to be independent: He could not depend on his family because he was a disgrace to them, he had no friends, and the band of Gypsies took pity on him for the sole reason of being able to make money off him. The more he enriched himself, the more valuable he was to the company. The reinforcing consequence was shelter and food, and his learned response to the environment was therefore to learn as much skill as he could and to become as selfish as he could.
To Erik, it was every man on his own and for his own. Erik would not have any problem in being an assassin. Within the Shah’s realm, killing as directed by the Shah was rewarded. In addition, I believe that it is more than likely that Erik viewed “punishment” as normal, and hence his interpretation of “punishment” was not as an aversive stimulation, but rather normalcy. He therefore had no fear of being “punished” for being a killer and at the same time, successful killings were repeatedly reinforced with wealth and status.
This changed, however, when Christine entered the picture. Erik developed an obsession toward the beautiful, talented, but emotionally devastated (due to the death of her father) chorus girl. Behaviorist view obsession as random acts that are by chance reinforced (Moore, 2011). Christine was fascinated with his genius, and thought that he was an angel sent by her father. Having not seen his disfigurement, I believe Christine did love Erik before that revelation. She respected Erik for his talent, and curious
enough to learn more about this “Angel of Music”. Erik no doubt was first captivated by her beauty, and when they actually spoke, Erik must have been pleasantly surprised that, for the first time in his life, he was treated as a person with no ill side-effects. These encounters-in-the-shadow made Erik feel good about himself, and together with a lack of negative consequences, he became obsessed with her – having a “relationship” with Christine made him happy, easing the anxiety within.
Under Skinner’s concept of operant conditioning (operant because, in Erik’s case, he did not expect to be reinforced with kindness), I would think that by changing the environment from greed, hate, treachery, and death to that of kindness and warmth provided by the presence of Christine, Erik was able to radically change his behavior from total selfishness, oblivious to the needs of others to one that was more or less compassionate. This radical change, however, did not come overnight.
It was through multiple encounters with Christine, each time they learn more about each other, each time his action was reinforced by the increasing level of kindness and respect returned to him, that his behavior was shaped. Erik did not know love, compassion, kindness, or any other behavior that we associate as positive, and clearly those behaviors were not instinctual to him. With Christine, he was being rewarded for “being good” – a teacher, a nurturing figure, or even, a lover.
The need to possess Christine solely for himself, however, proved to be overwhelming. Brief liaisons in the shadows, no matter how frequent, were no longer satisfying. He needed the environment created by the presence of Christine all the time. Simply put, Erik had learned to become an addict; he was addicted to Christine. Behaviorists view love as a stimulus that elicits a range of responses (Moore, 2011; Tolman, 1923). Upon experiencing the love stimulus, infants and toddlers may respond by stop crying, smiling, cooing, etc.
and the outstretching and flaying of their arms may be interpreted as wanting more of the stimulus (Moore, 2011; Tolman, 1923). Erik never experienced love and yet he felt pleasure from the stimulus. Unlike unpleasant stimuli such as fear and anger that one reacts by removing oneself away from the hostile environment, Erik needed to remain in the environment that gave him pleasure. In order to do so, he must have Christine in order to create an environment that continuously provides him with that stimulus, love.
Most likely triggered by seeing her perform on stage that night, Erik resorted to the familiar solution in obtaining reward quickly and easily: he kidnapped her, threatened her with her very life if his addiction was not satiated. However, the environment where Christine is present may prove to be the key in his ultimate decision to free her. Skinner viewed that all behaviors are controlled by the environment, and I believe we are seeing this concept consolidate in Erik’s decision. In the presence of Christine, Erik was compassionate, accommodating, and aware of the turmoil within himself and Christine.
I believe that in the environment created by her presence, he saw the impracticality and impossibility in the hope of spending the rest of his life with her. Letting her free was the choice he made in order to make Christine happy, for giving her this happiness would be his own greatest reward. Summary In this essay, the personality characteristics of Erik, Phantom of the Opera, were discussed using the Freudian psychoanalytic approach and the opposing Skinnerian radical behaviorism as references.
The Freudian approach would suggest that Erik’s personality was a manifestation of his unconscious, orally fixated psychosexual development and an unresolved Oedipus complex with no repressive ego defense mechanism. Erik’s life had been devoted to the satisfaction of the thanatos, the id driving force that leads toward aggression, destruction, and death. Without any internalized social rules and values (superego) as a guide to his actions, his ego had very little to resolve between the id and the superego.
As such, the id, driven by the thanatos force, repeatedly surface to the conscious and thus repeatedly gratified. The Skinnerian approach would view Erik’s personality as shaped by previous history of reinforcement in his given environment, steadily and progressively as he developed from a severely deformed, ridiculed child to a highly talented but tormented adult with little conscience. Everything that made up the person Erik was learned, and he had no free will to choose otherwise. Through operant conditioning, Erik learned to be ruthless, selfish, and hateful.
A behaviorist may interpret Erik’s need to possess Christine as a conditioned need for a stimulus, an addiction, and the respect and kindness returned to him by Christine functioned as reinfocers. In total disparity to his personality, the pivotal moment of the story came when Erik chose to let Christine and Raoul free. A Freudian psychoanalyst may interpret this as his unconscious need to re-experience the pleasure he felt when he first unleashed the id eros force when Christine allowed him to kiss her on the cheek, a pleasure far surpassing what a gratified id thanatos force was able to offer him up to that point.
Radical behaviorism may view Erik’s decision in releasing Christine and Raoul was environmentally influenced. First in the presence of Christine’s voice alone and later with her physical presence repeatedly created an environment that was pleasurable to Erik – he was rewarded and reinforced with respect and human kindness. In that environment, he behaved compassionately – making Christine happy gave him pleasure in return. It would make her happiest with Raoul, and so the decision to free them was made. These two opposing theories provided very different explanations to Erik’s personality.
However, I believe elements from both theories may be combined for a more comprehensive analysis on his behavior. It is very likely that Erik’s behaviors were learned and shaped by the hostile environment he constantly found himself since birth. Those behaviors, however inappropriate from a “normal” person’s point of view, were none-the-less necessary in ensuring his survival. The other aspect of his personality was his unconscious need for love and human kindness, something that he knew not existed until he encountered Christine.
This is the turning point for Erik’s personality development and likely to be the first battle between the thanatos drive that he was so accustomed to and the newly surfaced eros drive that his ego now must resolve. At the end, it was the eros force that predominated. Behaviorists would interpret that his act of compassion was defined by the environment with the presence of Christine; in her presence, Erik was able to explore the positive aspects of human behavior, ultimately realizing that he too possessed those qualities all along, just that they were, as Freud would put it, hidden in the unconscious.
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The Persian is the tritagonist a mysterious figure from Erik's past. He knows more of the history of the Opera Ghost than any other character. The Persian leads Raoul de Chagny into the Phantom's lair in the original novel to save Christine Daaé , and warns him to "keep his hand at the level of his eyes". He also saved Erik's life at some point, and would seem to almost consider himself Erik's friend were it not for the constantly opposed moral views they have.
History [ ]
The Persian was once the Daroga (police chief) in the Mazenderan Palace in Persia. Word of Erik's escapades had reached Persia, and the Persian found Erik and brought him back. They became acquaintances and Erik did him a few favors. While in Persia, Erik impressed the shah, but he learned too much about their secrets. The Persian was ordered to kill him, but he couldn't. He faked Erik's death, but was exiled and striped of his powers. He left Persia and went to live in Paris.
When Erik came to live in Paris, the Persian kept a close eye on him, not wanting him to get into any trouble. The opera house's workers and patrons paid him no mind, as he mostly watched from afar. When Christine Daaé disappeared during a performance, he teamed up with Raoul de Chagny to go down to the Phantom's lair and save her. However, they get trapped in a torture chamber and nearly drowned. The next thing he knew, the Persian was resting in his home. He remembered seeing Erik, Christine, and Raoul together, but didn't recall the details.
He attempted to go to the police, but they didn't listen to him. Afterwards, Erik approached him and told him what had happened - Christine had kissed him and he had let her and Raoul go. He put matters to rest and never spoke of it, again. When an investigator had asked him about the Opera Ghost, he told him everything that he knew, and he constructed it into a story - The Phantom of the Opera .
Appearances [ ]
Despite his sizable role in the novel, the Persian is almost never included in adaptations. His role is usually given to another character, such as Madame Giry in the 1986 stage musical , or averted entirely by making Raoul a more competent hero. There are only a few where he made the cut.
Arthur Edmund Carewe as "Ledoux"
In the 1925 film , the Persian is portrayed by Arthur Edmund Carewe. In early cuts of the film, he was the Persian from the novel and had an identical role as he did in the novel. Later cuts of the film changed the character, revealing that he was a French inspector named Ledoux, who was only pretending to be Persian. This was a trend in early Hollywood, where a character of color was revealed to be white, such as Rudolph Valentino's character in The Sheik  .
In Phantom of the Opera (Ken Hill) , the Persian takes on the same role that he does in the novel. His solo number in Act II, "Born with a Monstrous Countenance", was about the Phantom and his history with him.
The Persian in The Phantom of the Opera
In the 1988 animated adaptation by Emerald City Productions, the Persian fulfills much of the same role that he does in the novel. He guided Raoul down to the Phantom's lair and helped him and Christine escape in the end.
In Phantom by Susan Kay, the Persian plays an even larger role, starting off as the Royal Daroga of Persia. He is also given a name, Nadir Khan. Erik and himself were friends in the Persian court. Erik entertained his son and helped him in the last few months of his life. When Erik is to be arrested and sentenced to execution for knowing too much, the Persian risks not only his position but his life and allows him to escape. He only survives because his servant placed a dead body on the shores of the sea and dressed it in Erik's clothes and mask. The body was unrecognizable, so the Persian was not killed. Instead, he was exiled. But, due to his distant royal lineage, he was allowed a pension and came to live in Paris. When he once again meets Erik, he begins taking notes on him. It is a symbol of how well Erik thought of the Persian that he actually tried to keep a promise he made to him. As Nadir was releasing him years ago, he made Erik promise to commit no more pointless murders. Not only did Erik agree to the promise, but he tried, over the years, to keep it, and all but succeeded.
In the 1991 stage musical filmed and aired on PBS, the Persian was portrayed by Harsh Nayyar. Similar to the novel, he kept tabs on the Phantom, talking to Joseph Buquet about his encounters and to Raoul about Christine's sudden disappearance. After the Phantom kidnapped Christine, he was there to help lead him down to his lair. He stayed behind, after Raoul and Christine fled. When the Phantom threatened to kill him, he called his bluff. Before he exited, the Phantom said that he could follow him into the darkness forever.
In the visual novel developed by MazM, the Persian takes on the same role as the novel. He is first seen in the background as an NPC, unable to be spoken to. As the story progresses, he takes on a more active role.
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