Analysis of Erik, Phantom of the Opera Using Two Contrasting Personality Theories

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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 Fantôme de l'Opéra 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). Erik was actually not his birth name but rather a name given to him by accident, and Leroux had simply called him “the man’s voice” in the novel; Erik, however, had referred himself as “the opera ghost” and “the angel of music” throughout the texts (Leroux, 1910/1990). The history of Erik was revealed in the novel mostly by the character Persia (also known as the Persian or the daroga), a local police chief in Persia that followed Erik to Paris. 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. 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


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