Friday, March 7, 2008

Christine

Christine Daae - I have probably agonized more over this post than any other. Why? Analyzing Christine has not been easy. Erik I understand. His humanity, his pain, his yearning. I feel somewhat removed from Christine, however, so this tends to be harder. I also know there are passionate feelings regarding Erik and Christine among fans and the ultimate outcome of the story. After all, Christine's decision not to choose Erik is a painful ending in many ways.

Christine has been portrayed in the original work by Leroux, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s play, and the movie by Webber and Schumacher. Each of them have identical elements, all with slight variations. For this post, I’m going to focus on the Webber/Schumacher version of Christine to find a single line of thought. Otherwise, if I don’t, I fear I may blur the lines of my interpretation. I’m also going to focus only on one aspect of Christine and her journey in this story. However, as usual, I leave room for comments from my Leroux friends to discern her character and motives from the original work, and for all others who wish to express their thoughts on beautiful Christine Daae, the object of the Erik's obsession and love.

We all know the story. Christine is an orphan. Her father has passed away, and she has come to live at the Opera House. With the passing of her father, she clings to a promise that he will send to her the Angel of Music to watch over her. She has been visited by the Angel of Music, who teaches her, protects her, and guides her. He, in a sense, becomes a father figure. When she learns that the Phantom is in fact her Angel of Music, Christine begins to relate to him as a man instead. He reveals his human side to her, and she is drawn to him as a woman with different desires.

It’s interesting to note that Joel Schumacher, the director of the movie, purposely played on this thought throughout the score in both her looks and dress. When Christine is with the Phantom, she is seductive, attractive, her hair flows freely, her makeup is darker, and her clothing more revealing. Schumacher’s intent behind her transformation from her dressing room to his lair was to show that she was drawn to him in a trance-like state, hypnotized, and fascinated by the Phantom. The transformation was in her mind, and this was the effect the Phantom was having upon her drawing out her womanhood. Of course, this theme carries throughout the movie and climaxes at the Point of No Return.

After Christine becomes frightened of the Phantom, she turns to Raoul for protection and security, and becomes romantically involved with him. Now he is her guide and her protector, and in a sense, her new father figure. Her appearance when in Raoul’s presence is always one of innocence and her behavior is childlike. Her hair is pulled back, her makeup is light, her clothing modest. This is the innocent Christine still looking for a guide and protector in life, which she no longer finds in her Angel of Music.

Christine is on a journey in this story, as well, and that is a journey toward self-realization and one of growth becoming her own person. For Christine, that turning point comes when Erik stands before her with a noose around Raoul’s neck demanding her to “Make your choice!” Up until this time, she’s always been guided and watched over by the Angel of Music or Raoul. Choices have been made for her. She’s looked to someone else to tell her what to do. Now she is alone, faced with a horrible decision she must make, and it’s that decision that releases her into maturity and womanhood. She finally becomes her own person, not dependent upon another, as she has been since her father died. She chooses her own path. What motivates the decision she makes, however, is another discussion in itself. Any of those motivations could have been birthed from fear, compassion, love, personal desires or ambitions. Those are the questions you’ll have to answer for yourself on how the story reveals Christine to you.

My opinion? I think for the moment Christine made the right choice for both her and Erik. Two emotionally incomplete people do not make a happy whole. Erik needed to learn true love and to be touched at his humanity so he could gain his own sense of person and self worth. Christine in her own way helped him come to that realization. Christine needed to mature, become her own person and less dependent upon others, growing into womanhood. Erik in his own way helped her come to that realization. If her life with Erik would have been based on either coercion or dependency, there would have been no happiness for either of them. Erik and Christine were both on a journey together and that was a journey to wholeness. Where that journey continues to lead them, is best left for your imagination or from the hearts of writers who continue to give us sequels into their lives.

The Phantom's Student

Order Lessons From the Phantom of the Opera Here

7 comments:

Vicki said...

Jennifer, we think so much alike. Before you posted this comment, I was writing thoughts down about my possible next post - Betrayal. I had written down the same words jotting down thoughts about the act of Christine removing his mask and that act in itself stripping Erik of "his last ounce of dignity." Well, that confirms it - Betrayal is next.

AllYoUNeEdiSlOvE said...

I have a lot of opinions of Christine, posted in comments throughout your glorious blog. So heres a quick little piece of symbolism:

Notice the Phantom wears black, the color of darkness and seduction, etc. etc. & Christine always wears white when she is around him? The color of purity & innocence, etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful blog! I've just seen POTO for the first time this weekend and I've watched about 5 times now. I've been trying to process the symbolism of it and your blog is most helpful and insightful.

Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful blog! I've just seen POTO for the first time this weekend and I've watched about 5 times now. I've been trying to process the symbolism of it and your blog is most helpful and insightful.

Many thanks!

Rachael said...

I agree! Even though I felt bad for Erik that in the end Christine did not choose him, I feel that she made a good decision.

Dark Rose said...

I agree. Christine was right. Well, she was half right, I suppose. I don't think she should've chosen with either of them. She can't ever be complete with either one. It is clear to me (my personal opinions, so no rotten egg-pitching please, everyone else) that she loved both Raoul and Erik for at least a little bit. I have a theory for that: It is said that a person's soul is cut into half and one half remains with the original soul-owner while the other one went to his or her true love, thus the beginning of "Soul-mates". In Christine's case, I think her soul was split into thirds instead--one part with herself, one part with Raoul, and of course one part with Erik. So she can't choose one of them out of love, since she has love for both. And she chose well in the end, choosing Raoul and all, as much as the Erik+Christine appeals to the fans. Raoul is steady, brave and caring, and I can tell that he could die for Christine without hesitation (hello? he got tied to some gates and almost got killed!)

So, all in all, I agree with you. Raoul was the right choice for Christine, and as for Erik...well... I prefer the musical ending so I can craft my own fanfiction.

Gemma said...

I love this blog, and this post blew my mind! Movie Christine is a treat to analyze, and the most telling aspect of her personality, in my opinion, is her appearance when she's with Erik and Raoul. With Raoul, she looks so much the maiden: demure, modest, and girlish--aided and abetted by all that pink (an innocent color, though interestingly tinged by red...if you follow). With Erik, she's more natural, aside from the makeup. Her hair is loose and tousled, she's more simply clad, and she shows a bit more skin. Could this indicate that in Erik's presence, her soul is revealed, and it's acceptable for her to be who she is?

Shucks, Vicki, you took the words right out of my mouth talking about what E and C teach each other in the lair! Neither could have survived without the lessons of the other.

Thank you for the wonderful post!