Saturday, April 25, 2009

Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Phantom of the Opera is set in late nineteenth-century Paris, France. Within an opera of Paris, there is a legend of a phantom - even more so, a myth. The proprietors of the opera believe so deeply in this phantom that they always leave a specified sum of money for the ghost and its own box for every show, though there is no evidence of O.G. (Opera Ghost) ever appearing. Despite the lack of evidence, it has been discovered that any failure in accomadating or displeasing O.G. leads to it wreaking chaos and havoc taking appearance in an unexplained accident or occurance. When the two new proprietors arrive, they discount everything the employees say about the Phantom, and refuse to give in to seemingly empty threats.

The protagonist of the novel is Raoul, the Vicomte de Changy, and who has been in love with Christine Daae since childhood. He has one older brother, Phillipe Georges Marie Comte de Changy and two sisters who are mentioned once. While Raoul seems to act on impulse, his older brother acts on reason and logic, and tries to restrain his younger brother on sometimes rash decisions.

When Raoul and Christine Daee meet again, Christine is an opera singer, and she is instructed by an “Angel of Music”, which she does not tell to Raoul until later. When Christine was growing up, her father often told of an “Angel of Music” that was to come to a promising person at some time of his life, and teach him about music. The “Angel of Music” in question gives her lessons through the walls of her dressing room and Christine rapidly develops her voice skills and becomes prominent on stage when she is selected to replace the currant prima donna Carlotta, whose act is sabotaged by the Phantom. Christine out-sings Carlotta and wins the hearts of the audience, including that of Raoul.

The “Angel of Music”, Christine discovers, is nobody but the Phantom of the Opera. She learns this when the Phantom takes her to his underground lair out of jealousy of her relationship with Raoul. During the construction of the opera, it became necessary to pump underground water from the foundation pit, which created a huge subterreanean lake. Christine is naturally terrified especially as she finds that Erik is not angelic at all - indeed, he is physically deformed as well as malicious, volatile, and dangerous, and a brilliant genius as well as being the best ventriloquist ever, as demonstrated. She discovers Erik’s physical defomities when she removes his mask out of curiosity. Erik is outraged at first and threatens Christine that he shall keep her in his lair forever, however, he does forgive her somewhat and he releases her, promising that she can come back whenever she wishes to.

Meanwhile, Raoul has become suspicious of Christine and her “Angel of Music”. He is also envious when, after her performance, he hears her succumb to a disembodied voice in her dressing room, and suspects another man has taken advantage of Christine’s innocent belief in the “Angel of Music,” and is using it to seduce her. Accordingly, he begins spying on her in her dressing room to learn who the mysterious person is and where the disembodied voice comes from.

Raoul suspects the action to be the Phantom’s doing and goes to Christine’s rescue, being guided by another mysterious character only known as the Persian Daroga Nadir, who had saved the ghost's life once. Together, Raoul and the Persian go into the dark depths of the underground of the opera. Unfortunately, the route that they took leads them to the torture chamber, which they become trapped in.

While in the torture chamber, they learn that Erik has made a deal with Christine: that he will kill everybody and himself with everybody unless she consents to being his wife. It is a terrible decision and she only has until the next evening at eleven o’clock to decide and in the meantime, Raoul and the Persian are to be silent lest they are discovered in the torture chamber…


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