Review: The Phantom of the Opera

“All I wanted was to be loved for myself,” says the Phantom to Christine in Gaston Leroux’s award-winning novel The Phantom of the Opera. With over 150 remakes in various forms, The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most remade stories of all time.

First published in 1909, this Gothic novel revolves around the young, Swedish, soprano singer, Christine Daae, who captures the heart of Erik, the so-called “phantom of the opera” and the man who tutored Christine until she came out of mourning for her passed father and devoted her soul to “the phantom’s” music. Things were going smoothly until Christine’s first successful performance, where she caught the eye of her childhood sweetheart, Raoul. An internal battle begins in Christine’s soul, which concludes with a choice between the love of her life and her “angel of music” who hides his deformed face behind a mask.

“He asked only to be ‘someone,’ like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the entire empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar.” -Christine Daae, The Phantom of the Opera

This quote captures the moral of The Phantom of the Opera: do not judge people by their outward appearance. Just because someone may be deformed on the outside does not mean that their soul is the same way. Like Christine said, Erik could have been one of the most distinguished of mankind had mankind not rejected him for the result of a face infection.

The author, Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux, was born in Paris, France on May 6, 1868, and knew early on that he wanted to be a writer.

Gaston attended school where he wrote poetry and short stories and studied the works of Victor Hugo, an analysis which explains the close relationship between Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. Gaston also took many classes in law but soon grew tired of the profession, even though he knew it would help his writing.

When Gaston got out of school, he worked as a clerk in a law office and spent his free time writing essays and short stories. By 1890, he had become a full-time journalist and, in the early 1900s, he began writing novels on adventure, mystery, horror, romance, and fantasy, works which gave him continual success.

The Phantom of the Opera is told by an unnamed narrator who is examining the events in the novel thirty years after they occurred. Although this tale is fascinating, it can also be a bit boring at times.

It is quite exhausting to read through the opera owners continued unbelief of Erik when evidence that he exists is right in front of them.

The love story between Raoul and Christine is charming and enjoyable to read until “the phantom” causes them to go to drastic measures in an attempt to keep their love a secret.

I am not too fond of how much Raoul cries and whines about everything happening around him. I feel like Gaston could have made him a bit more mature.

I did like hearing Erik’s back story, even if it doesn’t answer all the questions a reader can supply. I had seen the 2004 movie prior to reading the book, so I came in visualizing Erik as a very angelic man when Gaston describes him as a skeleton who smells like death.

Despite the positives, The Phantom of the Opera can be quite confusing. I spent a lot of time re-reading certain sections trying to comprehend the mayhem going on in during the downfall of the Parisian opera house.


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