Part of what attracts me to Webber’s version of The Phantom of the Opera are the lyrics so creatively penned by Charles Hart. I find many of them quite poignant, haunting, revealing, and extremely moving upon my own heart (no pun intended there). The three lines above are no exception.
I am back to Erik’s humanity, as I write this post, for a few simple lyrical lines are about to reveal once again his tortured existence as a human being – black despair brought on by rejection, isolation, and loneliness. The Phantom of the Opera has become for me, at times, a psychological playground. Perhaps I missed my calling in life and should have been a psychologist, instead of pouring over contract language all day long…boring. As I have mentioned before, emotions in our lives that drive our behavior fascinate me to no end. Despair is no exception, and as we examine Erik’s character in depth, it is not hard to understand despair was a huge motivational factor in his life.
You already know the story, bound by an existence of loneliness for years hidden under the Opera Populaire. Then Christine arrives into his life, giving him at least the incentive to expose the essence of who he is to another human being. What great risk Erik took! Bound in loneliness, despair, and isolation yearning for a normal life, he takes the greatest risk to escape his darkness in hell. He reveals himself, his genius, and his love to the one woman who he believes can “save” him from his solitude. He may not have taken his outward mask off, but he certainly stripped himself of his inner one to find freedom and love.
Yet the cruelty of the story exists. He is betrayed and rejected again and returns once more to his dungeon of black despair, the prison of his mind that keeps him bound in the thoughts of his own unworthiness and the path that leads him only to hell. I believe this one act is another indication of why this story hits home to so many; it touches those who have sunk to the pain of depression at one time or another. The lines are a poetic description of the hell experienced by humans whose depression is born out of isolation and loneliness.
If you have never been there, count your lucky stars! I am not sure how many I speak to in this post, only to say that this existence is a real battle for those who live a life of isolation and loneliness. It takes GREAT courage to rise above it and risk the taking off your mask once again to another human in order to find the love and acceptance you yearn for. It also carries with it great fear that once you do, the rejection will return, and you will be once more dragged down to the dungeon of your black despair. Just another provoking thought…
Your Obedient Servant,
The Phantom’s Student
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