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A Phantom of the Opera Reading Community
Discussion Post 7
13th-Jul-2007 03:27 pm
Summary for Chapter Twelve:
I'm sorry to say I accidentally deleted this post.
13th-Jul-2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
However, what keeps her coming back to him?
It's hard for me, personally, to believe anything else. After all, she *has* been forcibly kidnapped, threatened, roughed up, probably scared out of her wits.
I see a lot of parallels with Patty Hearst, the CA heiress kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s, raped and abused by her captors. She was only rescued because she was ID'd on a bank security camera robbing banks with them. (Then she was convicted, and later pardoned by then-President Jimmy Carter. IIRC, the prosecutors wangled it so that Stockholm syndrome evidence wasn't admissible in her trial, or the jury didn't buy it - something like that.)
I weave back and forth between that idea, and the idea that Christine simply is an "unreliable narrator." Virtually nothing of her time with Erik is shown; instead, it's packaged up neatly for Raoul, who still manages to get a few inconvenient questions in (The best: "If Erik were handsome, would you love him?" :crickets:) So IMO it's possible that Christine had a quite different set of experiences during her fortnight, and that long period after the Masked Ball.
The other thing I find interesting about this period is that Christine not only comes and goes freely; she stays overnight with Erik at least once (perhaps more.) So fanfic writers who believe that Christine really had some deep erotic attraction, even involvement with Erik, can use this ambiguity to their advantage.
She also experiences another great rush of creative energy like she did during the earlier "gala," when she sings Rachel in
That's also an interesting choice of opera, as
is about a Jewish man who would rather see his daughter killed than marry a Christian. It seemed to me a direct parallel with Erik, who would rather see Christine, himself, and hundreds of people dead, rather than marry Raoul. So perhaps the selection of this opera is a foreshadowing of the crisis to come.
I'm not familiar with
's argument; maybe she'll drop in and tell us. I'm not sure why Erik wouldn't be nationalistically French, if he were indeed born in Rouen. However, Rouen is in Normandy, the stronghold of Viking settlement in France, so perhaps he has some Viking/ Teutonic blood in him? But while historically all things German were considered evil in France of that era, what in particular leads to the conclusion that Erik wasn't "truly French?"
Personally, I don't believe that Christine is naive and impressionable, necessarily. Her story is told from the POV of men who all have reason to turn her into a "projection" of one sort or another. We hear what she says to Raoul, but we don't ever see the story directly through her own eyes. Even her letters and papers (referred to by the narrator) are hidden from us. In some ways she's as much of a mystery as Erik.
It's almost as if *both* Christine and Erik are fantasy creatures, in the sense that they inhabit the mundane world (an architect/contractor; a singer) *and* the ethereal world at the same time. Erik mysteriously dies / disappears / fades away eventually, and so does Christine - and Raoul in a sense gets taken along for the ride, disappearing too. To me, this "secret engagement" / wandering through the Opera stage of their relationship foreshadows that. Raoul is in some ways the hapless person who's wandered into the middle of the "fairy circle," and has found that it's not so easy to get out...
13th-Jul-2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
I will address why I have, through the years, been labeled a traitor for views of Erik's nationality. Bottom line this stems research into the man who crafted the novel, not the character himself. However Leroux does say Erik was born in Rouen, which would make him nationally French--but Leroux does not give us a parental bloodline. In so far as I have found.
But we are not come at it from this angle.
First, the name Erik is of Germanic origin. Christine even asks if the "name of Erik does not point to Scandinavian origin". The choice of wine is a Tokay which "he himself brought from the cellars of Koensingburg," further hinting Leroux's route with this element of his novel.
Leroux's most famous villains (and Erik was viewed as a villain or ant-hero) were all German in his novels. His most famous being that of Ballmeyer an EXTREMELY German character. Ballmeyer and Erik display frightening similarities: murder, hidden passages, tricks, an obsession with genius and disguise…
Much in Leroux's novel echoed the anti Germanic sentiment that was still prevalent in Paris in him in a setting that for many years was very ANTI Germanic. The Paris Opera House did not host a German opera until 1890. Leroux's commentary of the opera manager M. Richard as the "sole person who has any comprehension of Wagner..." makes him a comical figure in the eyes of Parisian society at the time of its printing.
Leroux goes further into rooting Erik as a German/Germanic and portrays France's anti German sentiment in the novel as a whole. Much of Leroux's Phantom was gleaned in part from Svengali and Austrian Jew who captures the love of an opera singer by transfixing her and molding her into a work of public musical admiration. This from George Du Maurier's novel Trilby.
Overall Leroux wanted to create Erik as the foreigner among Frenchmen, in the same way he wanted a parallel between Raoul as the sexless virgin, yet leading male. Leroux wanted to craft Erik as the nationless character while still rooting him in a view that he knew many would still recognize as a villain. Germans and Germany were very important to Leroux in his novels. It does not surprise me that Erik has indication of a nationality that is not French.
The novel was also written at a time when Oriental thought was popular—echoed in the Persian, certain décor, even Erik as the Moor of Venice and his “yellow skin”
Who is to say what nationality Erik was? This element of Leroux however is why I chose to make my heroine in my trilogy continuing Phantom an Austrian. It is a shout out to Leroux.
And to all--I have long agreed with Stef ideas of the Stockholm Syndrom... it is a VERY powerful and plausible element in Leroux's novel
17th-Jul-2007 05:59 am (UTC)
I heard of people's theories that Erik is very oriental, but never that he is of German descent. Your references are interesting though of how "anti-German" France was at that time. I'm not however, convinced. I have thought that the reference to Tokay wine might be another allusion to Stoker's
. As he also makes Erik's bed a coffin much like Count Dracula.
16th-Jul-2007 09:18 pm (UTC)
I think the emphasis of the 'innocent' nature of Christine and Raoul's love is because they are so similar they could easily be siblings. As was discussed in one of the earlier posts, they are quite similar in looks, and I've come to notice that their tempers are also somewhat similar, although Raoul is much quicker to anger than Christine. In addition, their love
somewhat innocent. There isn't much of a physical side to their relationship (not like the Bois and Phillipe anyway).
Other childlike elements in the story...Erik's lady friend for one. Christine also in a way 'plays' that she likes Erik when she's with him, although that's one sided in its falsehood. Mama Valerius as a whole character strikes me as childish, so soon to believe in the Angel of Music along with Christine. Raoul's idea that he can save Christine is a bit childish; obviously if Erik has such a hold on her (even one through terror) that should signify that he's going to need
As for Erik's nationality, I don't really see any evidence that points to anything other than his being French, though I'm interested to read others' ideas.
I don't think Christine comes back to Erik because she's naive/impressionable. As it was said in a previous post, she could just be trying to play the two men to come out on top. Perhaps she thinks she can take hold of the situation; she can continue her voice lessons with Erik and then drop him for Raoul and a safe future. That is an interesting thought though that she returns because of a feeling she owes him. I suppose maybe that could be it, although I like my idea better. :D
16th-Jul-2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
Christine and Raoul's 'childlike' love makes me queasy. The 'pretend' lunches they have (biscuits and port) remind me of the pretend tea parties little girls like to have.
I think Christine's feelings towards Erik, which she discusses on the rooftop, are complex in the extreme. I don't know if she loves him, but I think she's almost as obsessed with him as he is with her. I also think there is a strong sexual element to this obsession, she almost becomes hot and bothered talking about him on the rooftop. The language hints at this too; 'voracious', 'ardent'. etc.
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