Phantom of the Opera - Obsession; the Mask of Love

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  • Topic: Love, The Phantom of the Opera, Romance
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  • Published : October 19, 2008
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Obsession; the Mask of Love
In examining the libretto The Phantom of the Opera, the interactions and attitudes of the characters, and the language used, I will show how the Phantom’s obsession over Christine, although at times destructive, leads to his change from an evil and selfish villain, to a remorseful and compassionate hero. To understand the psyche of the Phantom, one must first have a brief overview of the play.

In 1984 Andrew Lloyd Webber, transformed the original The Phantom of the Opera novel (written in 1911 by Gaston Leroux) into a dialogic, emotional masterpiece. The prologue starts at the end of the story, in an auction in the Paris Opera House, in 1905. Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny is buying a papier-mâché music box, which Christine, his love and Fiancée of his youth had described to him. The auction then transforms back in time twenty-four years and recounts the story of the Phantom of the Opera. A seeming ghost, this disfigured man lived in the dungeons of the opera house. Although he was a musical genius, a scholar, a composer and an architect, his deformities forced him to live in the shadows. The protagonist, Christine, a young ballerina, whose late father had recounted her stories of this angel of music, is taught to sing, by the Phantom.

Through music the Phantom wins the admiration of Christine. Trusted as her guardian angel, he tutors her at night, through two-way mirrors in her room. As the play progresses, with the help of the Phantom, Christine secures a leading role in an opera, and becomes a huge success. In hearing Christine, Raoul recognizes his childhood friend and pursues her. Christine’s singing lessons come with strict rules, and in breaking them by seeing Raoul, the Phantom’s demeanour turns from firm to deadly.

Act two is six months later, where at a masqued party, it is revealed to us that Christine and Raoul are secretly engaged to be married, which enrages the Phantom. He shows up at the masquerade, and presents an opera he had written and demands it be performed, with Christine as the lead. The opera staff decided that if they put on the Phantom’s opera then they might have a chance to capture and destroy him. Christine is uncertain whether or not to betray her Angel of Music.

The Play ends in an odd love triangle; the Phantom has taken Christine to his lair, five stories below the opera, where Raoul has followed. The Phantom catches Raoul in a noose, and forces Christine to choose to either live with him in his lair to free Raoul, or go free condemning Raoul to his death. Christine decides to free her fiancé by spending the rest of her life with the Phantom, and with a sudden change of heart, the Phantom releases them both and disappears.

The character of the Phantom of the Opera is a mysterious one. Haunted by a deformed face, he was forced to live in the shadows. Having a great hostility towards the human race in general, his release was in music. He falls in love with Christine, as she has been the only one who’s trusted him at all. Although her feelings of admiration for him are genuine, she sees the Phantom as a guardian, not a love interest. When Christine falls in love with Raoul, it obviously hurts the Phantom. His love and care towards her become obsession. Ultimately the Phantom wants to marry and spend the rest of his life with Christine. The wax bride of her that he keeps in his lair makes this very apparent. It is clear throughout the play that the Phantom would never hurt Christine, but his obsession over her drives him to unruly lengths. He engages in a swordfight with Raoul, while Raoul and Christine are visiting her fathers grave, he kills numerous stagehands who mocked him or defied his orders and ends up forcing Christine to make an appalling life choice.

The Phantom feels that Christine would be better off with him, than with Raoul. Even though the Phantom refers to himself as “this loathsome gargoyle, who burns in hell, but secretly...
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