Book Reads: The Phantom of the Opera (by Gaston Leroux) [☝]

January 26, 2013

The movie was mind-blowing. The musical was enthralling. But nothing prepared me for the book that started it all.

I already know the plot of The Phantom of the Opera so with the book, I was just expecting to read a reiteration of the events that took place at the Paris Opera House. But alas, I was presented with a more detailed and more darker tone of the story, with more events that happened beyond what has been presented in the movie and in the musical.

Erik was portrayed as a genius but hedious madman, unlike the mysterious romantic Angel of Music that I've known in the movie and in the musical. He was so madly in love that he would do anything to make Christine accept him. He is so possessive, I must say. He even came to the point of killing people who discovered his secret passageways and interfered with his plans. Erik knows the Opera House like the back of his hand, because the Opera has been his playground for years since he was living underground.

Detailed encounters between Christine and Erik are narrated in the book. People who want to see more of this eerie love affair will surely pore over the pages of the book.  Also, we see Raoul's pure love for Christine and how he would do anything to save the soul of his poor Christine from the dark and insane plans of Erik. This is because most of the book is narrated from his point of view. 

Honestly, I'm a little unsatisfied on how Christine's character was built up in the story. I wanted to know more on what's going on in her mind whenever she meets up with Erik. Still, we discover her sacrifices that she made in order to save the people that she love. She experienced mental torture and hardships while being held under the spell of Erik's splendid voice. There was even an incident wherein Christine attempted to commit suicide while she was kept underground and Erik was away. She hurt her head on the walls until it bled. When Erik found this out, he tied Christine's hands and held her in a corner so that she won't be able to move and do something harmful to herself again.

Moreover, the Opera House was presented in a more detailed manner, with all its grandeur and unique architectural art. With all its several passageways, it's a one huge labyrinth that even Opera patrons get lost within it. It has 17 floors, of which 7 of it are situated underground, adding up the lake at the bottom. The architecture presented in the novel is a true-to-life fact  as the Opera House actually stands in Paris today. This curious architecture surely have sparked Leroux' imagination to write this dark and haunting novel. 

Compared to the story of the musical, the role of the "knowledgeable" Madam Giry originally belongs to that of a Persian investigator with whom Raoul was with when he went down to the cellars to rescue Christine. Also, it was not just Raoul's life that was at stake when Christine was forced to make the choice between him and Erik. Hundreds of barrels of gunpowder was set up in the other levels of the cellar. Erik threatened to ignite it to kill not just the four of them but also including the hundreds of guests watching an ongoing play at the Opera stage several levels above. With that high cost, Christine made the monumental decision to be Erik's wife.

But inspite of all the madness, the readers will appreciate more where the Phantom's bitter emotions were coming from. He had experienced a lot of hardships in life, especially during childhood, that made him what he became to be. We see more of the remourseful side of Erik, seeing him crying and begging in front of Christine. He truly adored her, so much that in the end when he finally realized that Christine truly loved Raoul and not him, he had to let her go.

This novel is truly an insight on how far a person would go for someone or something he loves. My sympathy is still with Erik, but now it's mixed with fear because now I know how his insanity would make him do harmful things just to get what he wants.

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