Is a man born a monster or is he created through his trials in life? Should a person that is labelled a genius allowed to run uncheck inside a phantom house forcing others to do his bidding? Susan Kay’s Phantom reveals the story behind the mask revealing the story of the Phantom of the Opera and how he ended up as Christine’s Angel of Music.
***Warning spoilers lie ahead***
Erik was born with a birth defect forcing part of his face to become misshapen. His mother caring about how the village viewed their family kept Erik locked inside their home forcing him to wear a mask. She wanted nothing to do with him only giving him the basic needs in education, ensuring that she never touched the wild beast. Erik shows his natural abilities in music, architecture, and illusions seeing mirrors as hidden gems to create magic with.
Erik encountered several acts of cruelty before hiding in the Paris Opera house to escape from the world. After fleeing his mother’s home, he came across a group of gypsies and was forced to take part in a freak show being labelled as the living corpse. When he finally became free he became an apprentice to Geovanni only to flee after accidently killing the man’s daughter who was cruel to Erik due to his appearance.
A Tragic Tale
When Erik lives in the Paris Opera house he comes across Christine Daae and falls in love with her hoping that she would return the love he never received from his own mother. Knowing that his appearance will frighten her he becomes her angel of hoping to destroy the demon he had become and teaches her how to sing.
When they finally meet, Christine is horrified by his appearance and hides in Erik’s bedroom, thus causing him to lash out through his music. He ends creating the masterpiece that he later demands the owners of the Paris Opera House perform for him.
Like most artists of the time, Erik was addicted to drugs and when he discovers that he is dying, yet Christine’s betrayal is the final straw. He plans to destroy everything that he has created embracing the personal of the ghost he has created while staying in the Paris Opera house.
There are two scenes in the novel that I could read again because of the raw emotions written within the pages. When Erik is a part of the freak show and when he takes Christine to his home under the Paris Opera House. Erik is raised to believe that he is a monster and that he was a creation of the devil. He is raised on the church beliefs and knows that guppies are another form of sinners. He hopes to be accepted by them and instead is used to gain them money showing that even among outcasts Erik is still alone and unloved.
Erik uses his abilities in illusions and trickery to have the Paris Opera House built in his fashion creating the Paris Opera Ghost to ensure that he had money to live on while avoiding interactions with other people. He sees Christine and falls in love with her yet knows that his appearance would frighten her away. Instead he become the supports she needs to gain confidence in herself and improves her singing ability. When she sees the man behind the mask she ignores everything that Erik has done for her showing that like those before her she sees him as a monster.
Phantom is one of my favorite books because it spoke to me on an emotional and intellectual level. I connected with Erik understanding that all he desired was love and the encouragement to prefect his crafts. Our society is known for judging others based on mere appearance creating outcasts and loners. Thinking that beauty should be the reason why a person succeeds in life rather then the talents they were born with.
Now, shush, I’m trying to read