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The Phantom's Hope


Swansong
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I grabbed this from a post of mine at another site, and just thought I'd share it with you all.

_______________________________________

The Topic: Is the Phantom self centered?

I think we tend to underestimate our Phantom, and are much too quick to judge him based on our own morals and modern societal structures. He is a man whose role models have been actors and overblown characters from melodramatic operas. What little social wisdom he has, he gained through his observations of a bohemian self-serving, and ego-driven culture, both onstage and off. He models his clothing and his environment after the kind of man he wants to be; a gentleman.... a person of grace and charm and wit... the gallant romantic hero. Considering the folks who populate the opera house, I would say he does quite well in creating an intriguing persona. One might assume that he was an avid observer of the audiences as well as the actors, and perhaps he learned his manners more from those who sat in the auditorium, than those who fill the stage.

His behavior may at first seem selfish... but in many ways, as he was played by Gerry in the film... he WANTS to give, but has always faced rejection. When he comes to terms with his love for Christine, he is willing to do nearly anything to win her, and is often motivated by his fear of losing her love, or what he thinks is her love.

The thing that really moves me about the Phantom, is that despite the miserable way he has been treated by others, and despite his years of isolation and profound loneliness, he refuses to give up and die. We see this by his actions time and again. Even though his home is a dark hole in the ground, he tries to make it beautiful. He wears beautiful clothing, and surrounds himself with art and music, when another man with his deformity and background of abuse, might have allowed himself to degenerate into filthy, ragged freak.

At some point after he falls in love with Christine, he creates a wedding gown... and it becomes a fixture in his underground world...the dress, a symbol of his hope. In his heart, despite all who would make him believe he is undeserving and will never have a woman to share his life... he will not give up. He refuses to let hope die. Who knows how many years that wedding gown had been standing there in its shrine, and still he holds onto the belief that she will one day wear the dress and veil as his bride.

Yes he is confused about the nature of love... and he acts out of desperation and fear to preserve what he sees as his only chance for love. He is violent against anyone who threatens his dreams.... because his is a world of black and white, where he is the hero and everyone else is out to take away what is his. His ache for Christine drives him closer and closer to the edge of complete insanity, his murder of Piangi, an indication of his escalating desperation.

But finally, he is forced to act for the sake of someone else; the only person in the world he truly loves.... when she shows him by her kiss, what real love is. She loves Raoul, and was willing to sacrifice herself for his freedom... and when the Phantom sees that kind of love in her.... he identifies it and discovers it within himself.

Yes Christine's kiss was a demonstration of her love and respect for her former teacher and beloved Angel. I believe on some level, she truly loves the man. But the kiss also taught the Phantom, that the true nature of love is not to take and demand from others... but to give... even if that gift means losing the very person you cherish.

I believe that under different circumstanses.... this man would have been a selfless and giving human being, and I admire him immensely for his final act of mercy and love... and for never losing hope.

Swan

Please share your thoughts. This is a topic that fascinates me.

Edited by Swansong
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Oh, wow, Swan...very eloquently put. I agree with so many of your points...and I want to respond, but I must let it sink in a bit and make sure I do your post justice with my reply. :smile:

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  • 2 weeks later...

You said it so perfectly Swan. I don't know what else to say. I like how you pointed out that he was a gentleman and that he would have had to learn that from the audience as opposed to the "theatre" people..., (oh no...I do hope Cailleach isn't reading this post!! hee hee...she is a "theatre" person...you know I love ya DG!!)

Someone said they wished there'd been a "scene" in the swan bed, and I was shocked!! I told her that he would not have done that, (taken advantage of her, or forced her), because he was a gentleman. Not to mention, he appeared to be a virgin too. :wub:

Okay I'm stopping here, before I'm past the point of no return... :kisswink:

Can't wait to meet you in Vegas Swan!!

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I know you have your own post-Phantom story, Swan, and might not want to read those written by others, but I just finished reading one by another Gerry fan, Debra Whitehead which got published recently. It is called "Into the Light" and so many of the characteristics you mention about Gerry's Erik are brought out in her wonderful and satisfying book about his life after the fire in the Opera House. It truly is an uplifting tale of thriving, not just surviving, post-Christine. I highly recommend it. Her Erik is not evil, mad, vengeful or filled with hate. He has struggles, he has insecurities, he has pain, but he also learns to understand hope, friendship, selflessness, love...all the things I think we would want for him to have in his life.
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Thanks Susan,

Since I began writing my Phantom book over a year ago, I have made a point not to read other author's take on the story, so that mine would not be influenced by other work. The only POTO books I have read are the original by Leroux, Susan Kay's book before G's film came out, and one whose title I cannot recall where Erik goes to New Orleans and practices black magic and voodoo. Perhaps after I have finished with mine... I'll read all the other recommended POTO stories out there, cuz quite frankly.... I can't get enough of Erik.

I sure hope someday, my published book will be on someone's recommended reading list!

Swan

Edited by Swansong
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Someone said they wished there'd been a "scene" in the swan bed, and I was shocked!! I told her that he would not have done that, (taken advantage of her, or forced her), because he was a gentleman. Not to mention, he appeared to be a virgin too. :wub:

Hummm....AG, could that someone be ME?? I still say I would've like to have seen some action in that swan bed. Virgin or no virgin!!

TaTa... :funnyface:

JUDE

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Oh my goodness Swan I never tire of reading your posts, And once again you hit it dead center...Promise never to stop writing those sanario's, I love reading them...As for me I know how I feel about certain things but can never explain it on paper or verbally :confused:, And some how you know exactly what Im feeling about certain things, you have that gift...Thanks Swan....Peggy.

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What I find astonishing about Gerry's portrayal of the Phantom.... is that he was able to convincingly convey absolute lust and sexual need... juxtaposed with absolute innocence and vulnerabilty. You can literally see the Phantom's sexual desire and passion in every breath the man takes. You can feel the consuming lust rippling just beneath his skin, as he caresses Christine in MOTN. Yet at the same time he burns up the screen with want... he holds back, he is reserved and controlled to the point that it pains him.

If Erik had only wanted sex, he could have kidnapped some whore, brought her down there and made her his sex slave. But Erik wanted so much more than just sex. He wanted the kind of love and passion, where through the physical act, one can feel the lover's soul climb into theirs. He wanted the kind of love that surpasses flesh, and melds the essence of one person to another. He wanted that ultimate connection and onenness, with someone who he felt was made just for him. He wanted to know that there was... in the big bad ugly world he had known... someone just for him. Then he would know for certain that he was not a mistake, and that his existence on earth was meant to be. Don't we all want that? To know that our life has meaning?

He thought that someone was Christine.

Later in the film when he begins to lose control of that carefully rehearsed veneer of gentility.... we see the darker, edgy man emerge.... but even then beneath the growling voice and thrusting hips of Don Juan... when Christine tears off the mask of the Phantom's pretense and we see him for who he really is... he is an innocent. Hardly an adult male, and more like a frightened child.

When he forces her back down into his lair, he stalks, he threatens... he talks big, but look how his finger achingly reaches for one of her curls. He will not take her by force, because his one desire is.... that someone will WANT and CHOOSE to love him.

In the end, according to the ALW version... he realizes that she does not, and cannot love him the way he needs to be loved. She loves Raoul... and he sees that clearly when she kisses him, in order to win Raoul's release. She is doing it for Raoul.... not for Erik. Thus he lets her go, because at his core.... the Phantom is a good man with high aspirations.

How can you NOT love Gerry's portrayal of him?

Swan

Edited by Swansong
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Oooh, ooooooh, again hit so very well!

How can you NOT love Gerry's portrayal of him?

Honestly? I just don't bloody know! Hence my angsty post the other day? Yeah. It's just masterful, every little expression and movement make Erik more alive and human than any other I've seen.

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Abs, I think the biggest fault with this film, is that neither Emmy or Patrick ever convince me that their characters truly love each other with the kind of love I am talking about. To me, they merely seem fond of one another, and even the kiss on the roof seems lackluster and wimpy... with Christine always pulling back from Raoul. Had there been more of a convincing connection between those two... the love triangle would have made more sense. As it is, we cannot truly get behind Christine leaving Erik. Ahhhh.... but perhaps that is the point.

Swan

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Abs, I think the biggest fault with this film, is that neither Emmy or Patrick ever convince me that their characters truly love each other with the kind of love I am talking about. To me, they merely seem fond of one another, and even the kiss on the roof seems lackluster and wimpy... with Christine always pulling back from Raoul. Had there been more of a convincing connection between those two... the love triangle would have made more sense. As it is, we cannot truly get behind Christine leaving Erik. Ahhhh.... but perhaps that is the point.

Swan

Actually I think that truly is the point. In other versions Raoul is even more of a wimp than he is in the movie. At least ALW and Joel attempted to make Raoul a bit more of a romantic hero (the swordfight) so there was more of a reason for Christine to choose him. Of course their love is portrayed as a more chaste love, a "childhood sweethearts grown up" sort of thing and not anything approaching the raw sexual energy that existed within Erik. But Christine was young, too young really to embrace the sensuality and sexuality of Erik. I think her youth made her ill-equipped to deal with just about everything about him - his need, his vulnerability, his fears, his genius, his lust, his madness. That made Raoul the only logical choice for her - and my mind will always believe there was someone far better suited out there who would love Erik for all he had to offer, with a love so encompassing that his physical deformity would become invisible to her and ultimately to him.

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I do not know if any of you read my phantom story in the fan fiction story but I what I was trying to aim for was to let Erik know that there was another person out there like Christine but obviously since I was one of the main characters of my story(not to brag) I decided that Erik needs to know that there is someone for him. (getting a little bit teary eyed) I admit that everytime I read his story and mine that I start to feel sorry for Erik himself. Erik and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast both have taught me a single message that we all should know "That to look beyond what you see for there maybe something different on the inside" Now although these stories are different I still find some ways that they are linked to one another. Like for instance Belle and Christine are stuck between a fight between two men but the difference is Gaston only likes Belle for her beauty not for what is inside and plus the fact that he thought he deserved everything I mean there are some ways that Erik liked Christine for her beauty but he was more of into her herself. They both have their romantic scenes in the movie like the ballroom dancing between Belle and the Beast and MOTN. I cannot say anymore because I am getting a little bit upset talking about this.

Paige

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Abs, I think the biggest fault with this film, is that neither Emmy or Patrick ever convince me that their characters truly love each other with the kind of love I am talking about. To me, they merely seem fond of one another, and even the kiss on the roof seems lackluster and wimpy... with Christine always pulling back from Raoul. Had there been more of a convincing connection between those two... the love triangle would have made more sense. As it is, we cannot truly get behind Christine leaving Erik. Ahhhh.... but perhaps that is the point.

Swan

Actually I think that truly is the point. In other versions Raoul is even more of a wimp than he is in the movie. At least ALW and Joel attempted to make Raoul a bit more of a romantic hero (the swordfight) so there was more of a reason for Christine to choose him. Of course their love is portrayed as a more chaste love, a "childhood sweethearts grown up" sort of thing and not anything approaching the raw sexual energy that existed within Erik. But Christine was young, too young really to embrace the sensuality and sexuality of Erik. I think her youth made her ill-equipped to deal with just about everything about him - his need, his vulnerability, his fears, his genius, his lust, his madness. That made Raoul the only logical choice for her - and my mind will always believe there was someone far better suited out there who would love Erik for all he had to offer, with a love so encompassing that his physical deformity would become invisible to her and ultimately to him.

Aye... and yet Christine often spoke of the music box.... meaning, she never forgot the Phantom. And the Phantom himself left a rose and the ring at her gravesite. Clues that I believe suggest, there is still an emotional/soulish connection between Christine and the Phantom... and Raoul's reaction also suggests he knows this.

Christine did marry Raoul and had children with him.... but some part of her still thought of Erik throughout her life... just as the song Think of Me foreshadows at the beginning of the film.

Perhaps as she grew older, Christine came to realize that something was missing between herself and Raoul.

Swan

Edited by Swansong
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Christine..reprected e'vething..tha wis missing..in tha Phantom...life...an e'in his warld...his heart..body..an Soul.

Tae hiv tha gift O such beauty..in his hearts...but n'ver tha oppurtunities..tha rest O tha warld..haed...wis madness....but in this..madness...wis..tha vouise..O hawp...compation...an love..

Christine..

Whey..coud.she nae hiv loved him.?.Whey maist tha cold realities O life..be his anly..companion?

He wis indeed..misunderstund..by tha warld..tha betrayed..him aw O his life...

Christine..wis lik oxygon...tae The Phantom...an he knew wioot her..he wad surly die...

Wha ye come sae close tae tha one thing..tha gives yer life..tru..meanin....tru...compation....tru. love...thou mis-guieded...ye will dae onything...tae keep it..

Its aw arood ye..e'in in taedaey..news..."Crimes O Passions"

You..love sae haurd...and sae..deep...ye coud destroy..ony...an aw...who try..tae tak..it frae..ye..

It dosenae mak it sane...

it dosenae mak it richt...but..whit iother chocies..did he hiv...

Juist Ma Thouhts..

Gabriel..

Edited by Gabriel
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Aye... and yet Christine often spoke of the music box.... meaning, she never forgot the Phantom. And the Phantom himself left a rose and the ring at her gravesite. Clues that I believe suggest, there is still an emotional/soulish connection between Christine and the Phantom... and Raoul's reaction also suggests he knows this.

Christine did marry Raoul and had children with him.... but some part of her still thought of Erik throughout her life... just as the song Think of Me foreshadows at the beginning of the film.

Perhaps as she grew older, Christine came to realize that something was missing between herself and Raoul.

Swan

I never allow myself to believe that the rose at the end meant that Erik never got over Christine, that thought would be too painful. Yes, it means that they maintained some sort of a connection even long after she was dead (her date of death was 2 years prior to Raoul bringing the music box to her grave), but I refuse to believe Erik pined away without love for all those years. Rather I choose to believe he did go on to find love, a wonderful, mature and reciprocated love and that the connection he maintained to Christine was his gratitude that his love for her (and even her not returning it) forced him out into the world where he found that there was something better awaiting him.

On the other hand I am sure that Christine thought of Erik often, maybe wondered what became of him, wondered what might have been. This may have been especially so as she matured and realized that while she had a comfortable life with Raoul it was not one of passion, and that had she allowed herself to return the love that Erik offered her she would have had a life filled with passion.

Some people don't want that, the ups and downs of such grand emotion is too painful. They would rather remain comfortable, companionable, without the fire and ice. There is nothing wrong with that, if it works for both parties. But I think Raoul buying the music box because Christine described it in such detail, meant that Christine lived her life wondering "what if" and Raoul knew that - and THAT is what is truly sad.

And here is another thought - I always hated the song Learn to be Lonely because I thought that was aimed at Erik, but what if it was actually aimed at Raoul and Christine? What if Erik did not live the rest of his life alone while Raoul and Christine, though married, were emotionally lonely because their entire lives were lived with Erik between them. That is another spin altogether.

Also, my feelings in this vein really apply only to the movie. In no other version did I feel that Christine could or should love Erik - he was older than her father and was very much more a father figure to her than the younger and far more sensual Erik Gerry created.

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Hi Susan...Unfortunately, I think the Phantom never got over Christine, and never found love, and that he pined away for what he could never have everyday of his life. Unfortunately, I still being single and all that other stuff...I can see how it is to live like that. I know what it's like to live like that for your whole life. And it sucks but that's life. Not everyone gets want they want, or need. Life is not fair. It is just life.

I could not believe that "Learn To Be Lonely" song when I heard it at the closing titles of the movie the very first time I saw it...On Christmas day of all days, and there I was all alone, watching a movie by myself on Christmas day...this is going to sound very dramatic, but it was like, "Oh, why don't you just stick a knife thru my heart"... :cry:

okay...that's all from me. I need to go think some Happy Thoughts...

Edited by Attila Girl
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That's interesting Nancy, because I can't even listen to that song on my soundtrack CD. All I can think of is my Nathan... who has always been lonely.... and then finally when he falls in love and gets engaged to a young lady, she dumps him and is now living with his best friend!

I must say, I can't really see Erik getting over Christine and finding love with another. To me... he seems tied to her in a way he would never be free from. I do see him still composing music, and living his life in some fashion, but I think the very song, Learn to be Lonely, is an indication that he was alone after Christine left him.

And you see that is what gets me. Because if you realize that Christine, has for 10 years, been the focus of his life; that for 10 years he has tutored her, and cared for her, and during that time.... at some point fell in love with her.... then you can really feel the depth of his loss when he loses her to Raoul. Not only did he lose the woman he loved... but also, his one companion.... the one soul he felt a connection with. I imagine that prior to his taking her through the mirror... they had contact often, if not daily. For him, to sit behind that mirror and teach her to sing, or perhaps even have her speak with him.... must have seemed like such a light in his darkness. And there we have the song.... No One Would Listen.... no one but her, the child Christine.

And you see, this is the part of the story that I am writing in my book.

Finally... there he is at the end of the film, placing the ring and rose at her grave. No.... I do not believe this man ever stopped loving his angel.

Swan

Edited by Swansong
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Christine..reprected e'vething..tha wis missing..in tha Phantom...life...an e'in his warld...his heart..body..an Soul.

Tae hiv tha gift O such beauty..in his hearts...but n'ver tha oppurtunities..tha rest O tha warld..haed...wis madness....but in this..madness...wis..tha vouise..O hawp...compation...an love..

Christine..

Whey..coud.she nae hiv loved him.?.Whey maist tha cold realities O life..be his anly..companion?

He wis indeed..misunderstund..by tha warld..tha betrayed..him aw O his life...

Christine..wis lik oxygon...tae The Phantom...an he knew wioot her..he wad surly die...

Wha ye come sae close tae tha one thing..tha gives yer life..tru..meanin....tru...compation....tru. love...thou mis-guieded...ye will dae onything...tae keep it..

Its aw arood ye..e'in in taedaey..news..."Crimes O Passions"

You..love sae haurd...and sae..deep...ye coud destroy..ony...an aw...who try..tae tak..it frae..ye..

It dosenae mak it sane...

it dosenae mak it richt...but..whit iother chocies..did he hiv...

Juist Ma Thouhts..

Gabriel..

Gabriel... you are in many ways, like the brother of my heart. I believe in this matter.... we are of the same mind. Thanks for sharing.

Swan

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Yes Swan...I totally understand the whole lonely thing. I'm sad to hear that about Nathan and the girl.

I think it would be really interesting to see how the Phantom taught Christine all thru those years...

Is your book the same as what's on the fan fiction threads? I still need to check it out!!

See you next week!!

:vegasbaby::vegasbaby::vegasbaby:

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Yes Nancy.... My book in progress is here in the over 18 Fanfiction forum. In my take on the story, I develop the relationship between Christine and Erik from the time she arrives at the Opera House as an orphaned child of 10. You get to see how he discovers her living there, and how he first contacts her.... and then how they grow to love one another.

Swan

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Oh how sweet Swan...I will definetly have to get reading it!! :inlove:

You know, I have never read the book by Gaston Leroux...(i don't think I spelt it right?)

Does it cover any of those early years? A couple weeks ago Jude and I came across a nice little paperback version of it and I thought it would be fun to read the original. ::D:

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The only book I've read that goes through early years is Phantom by Susan Kay. Personally I didn't care for Leroux's version. It spent far too much time focusing on some of the peripheral characters like The Persian, and far too little filling in the blanks about Erik's life. That is why I liked Kay's Phantom, though there were some things I disliked I loved how well Kay gives Erik's life a full history and you find out how he learned to be an architect, and how he came to live beneath the Opera House (and it had nothing to do with Madame Giry).

I guess I like happy endings, not tragic ones. Maybe because I have had more than one love in my life I am a firm believer in the ability to move on, to find love and happiness again after a broken heart or even the tragic loss of a great love. That is why I prefer to believe that Erik found love after Christine. Not everyone chooses to believe that way, I know, and since Leroux and Kay both have Erik being much, much older, and dying long before Christine does, the younger ALW/JS version leaves Erik's future open to interpretation. Obviously in the original there was no getting over the love for Christine because he dies soon after she leaves. Maybe that is why I am so drawn to the post-Christine story in "Into the Light", because the author thinks as I do, that Erik deserved to find more love, happiness and fulfillment after Christine left and that's the story she writes.

It is easy to see how each of us brings our own life experiences into what we believe did or should happen after the end of the story in the movie.

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