Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ring

The geometrical design of a ring is an age-old symbol of eternity. A never ending connotation. Have you ever noticed the number of things in nature represented by rings or circles? The rings around planets, the orbits around the sun, the moon circling the earth, the circle of bird’s nest, the cycle of life interwoven in circles in the things we do. The ring is endless, timeless, repetitive, and an unbroken circle that is filled with symbolism.

Throughout history marriages have used the symbol of the ring not only to indicate eternity, but to indicate possession. The ring, given by the husband, indicates he possesses the wife, and she is no longer available to other men. We see the ring used in the Phantom of the Opera in both the original work and the movie as a symbol of possession. However, if you watch its journey, you’ll see the ring make a full circle, but never lives out its intended purpose.

In the book, the Phantom gives Christine a plain gold wedding band to wear. Gold bands were historically used as a symbol that the bridegroom trusted his betrothed with his valuable property. It was also considered good luck for the marriage to have gold bands rather than silver. The Phantom tells Christine, “On condition that this ring is always on your finger. As long as you keep it, you will be protected against all danger and Erik will remain your friend.” When Raoul sees the ring he knows it signifies the Phantom's possession of her as his future wife. Christine loses the ring. When the Phantom releases her, he gives her the ring back as a wedding gift. “I held in my hand a ring, a plain gold ring which I had given her." The Phantom upon releasing her gives her the ring back as a wedding present to her and Raoul. At his request upon his death, she returns to Erik to place the plain gold ring back on his finger. The ring has made a full circle.

In the movie, we see a different version. Raoul gives Christine an engagement ring. Only this ring is a beautiful piece of jewelry, not a plain gold wedding band. In high society the quality of the jewelry given to a woman indicated the social position and prosperity of the groom. Perhaps this is why Webber’s version uses a diamond ring. The Phantom, however, after seeing the ring tears it from Christine’s neck declaring her chains belong to him. He takes the ring as a symbol of his continued possession of Christine, not Raoul. Stealing the ring, as he plots to steal her. After he brings her to his lair, he gives her the ring for marriage. She puts the ring on her finger, agrees to become his wife. After the Phantom frees her to a life with Raoul, she takes the ring off, and she gives it back to him once again. He carries it throughout life until her death and returns it to her grave. Once again, the ring has made full circle.

The ring no doubt is a symbol of possession in the story, and the Phantom’s desire to be with Christine for eternity. However, as hard as he schemes to have her and win her love, he never fully possesses her heart. The ring never lives out its intended purpose of a symbol of eternity with her. It only makes a full circle and comes back to him and his life of solitude.

If you have a wedding ring on your finger, take a moment and ponder its meaning. Be thankful you have someone who possesses your heart. There are those of us, like Erik, who have rings that have made the full circle. No one possesses our hearts though; and we, like him, have returned to a life of solitude.

The Ringless Phantom's Student

Order Lessons From the Phantom of the Opera in Paperback Here



1 comment:

KnightCrusader said...

As a wearer of a plain gold band, an outward symbol of my devotion to Erik; I know my ring will never come 'full circle'. But I do hope that after I'm gone, it will at least make it to the lake and hopefully to the house beyond it.

Please continue with more fascinating posts. Also, good luck with the publication. I look forward to buying it.

Knight Phantom