Thursday, October 30, 2008


Damn you! Curse you! Wait a minute, did we hear the Phantom right? I thought he loved Christine? Now he’s damning and cursing her and calling her names? What’s up with that?

“You little prying Pandora!” Pandora, the first woman created by the Greek gods, who each gave her unique gifts. She opened a jar out of curiosity and released all sorts of evils upon mankind. (Not much different from Eve biting that apple.) Did he equate Christine’s act as prying curiosity that released his evil reaction when she took off the mask?

"You little demon!” Quite self-explanatory, an evil spirit, malicious and wicked. He calls his beloved Christine a demon, when he equates himself as one inwardly. Psychologists call this psychological projection, which is a defense mechanism used to project our own unacceptable thoughts or emotions upon another. Thank you Sigmund Freud!!

“You little lying Delilah!” Delilah! The woman who betrayed Samson – a biblical story. Samson was the strongest man in the world, and his enemies the Philistines wanted to destroy him. He loved a Philistine woman, Delilah, who covertly tried to find the secret to his strength. Christine is trying to find the secret behind the mask, but he’s accusing her of lying about her sincerity and betraying him - prophetic in word, I would think.

“You little viper.” Now he’s referencing her as a poisonous snake lying in the grass ready to strike with her venom.

So what triggered this outbreak of rage and anger against the woman he loved? Christine, as we would say in modern times, “pushed his buttons,” “triggered a reaction,” or “hit a sore spot,” however you’d like to term the act. Her removal of his mask exposed the most painful part of who he was as a human being – his physical deformity. Unfortunately, she did not only do it once, she did it twice! Each time elicited the same reaction - rage.

Leroux’s version of Christine’s words reveals his pain upon the stripping of his covering,
“I should always hear the superhuman cry of grief and rage which he uttered when the terrible sight appeared before my eyes.” Erik’s reaction in the original work is violent. He hisses at her, curses her, and pulls her by the hair. On stage he curses and cries, and crawls across the stage in grief. In the movie, he acts violently pushing Christine down, and verbally abusing the woman he supposedly loves.

I think all of us have what we call trigger points. Painful reminders in our lives, sore spots, and places we don’t like to be touched. Like pushing on an open wound, we cry and react in unbelievable pain. We yell at those we love, and hurt those close to us.

The scene in the book, play, and movie is another example of Erik’s humanity. You may have pulled the symbolic mask off another person out of curiosity and been the brunt of someone’s outburst; or you have had your own mask removed and lashed out at the one who exposed and poked you. We all have those places of pain we don't wish touched by others. Through the story, we know Erik's pain, understand how he must have felt, and forgive his rash behavior. One of those been there - done that moments we all relate to.

At the end of the scene, Christine sheds tears and hands to Erik his mask, that dignity she stripped from him, no doubt sorrowful she caused him such pain out of idle curiosity. He places it back upon his face and rises. I've often pondered her act exposing him a second time, knowing the great pain it would cause him and the response it would illicit.

The question remains for you, what's your trigger? What sore spot in your life sets you off when touched? We all have them. I know I do.

The Phantom's Student

Order Lessons From the Phantom of the Opera Here


Amanda said...

I just wanted to let you know how helpful this post was for my understanding of Phantom. After I read this post, I re-read the Pandora myth and I feel like I appreciate the power behind the allusion so much more. I think Christine did pry into his "box" or "jar" of destructive qualities and painful experiences, but we can't forget that HOPE is the last thing to escape from the box. I think that there is HOPE that comes from Christine's removing Erik's mask. He initially reacts violently, and sings in a way that is chillingly self-deprecating. But as the song ends, the Phantom is able to reveal his hopes, "secretly yearning for heaven" and "dreams of beauty". Had Christine not removed the mask, she may have never been able to directly hear this from the Phantom.

I would love to talk to you more about writing on Phantom. I am a high school English teacher and fellow Phan :). I think there is such a lack of true academic writing on this piece. Phantom is a source of rich storytelling, symbolism, theme, and excellent for discussions on point of view. I'd love to toss around some ideas for maybe putting together a self-published teacher's handbook and lesson plans for this musical. .. let me know what you think!


Phantom's Student said...


Thanks so much for your comment! Loved your insight about Pandora leaving "hope" in the jar, and appreciate how you weaved that into the topic. I agree on your insight.

As far as self-publishing, I'm about to do that with my blog, but am happy to discuss with you any idea you may be tossing around. My initial thoughts were to publish my posts with reflective questions and answers at the end for reflection for my readers.

Feel free to email me at either or

~Christine Daae said...

Vicki, This is one of my favorite parts of the whole story, in either the book, play or movie. Your words definitely bring out a better understanding to Erik's humanity, and hopefully for the readers who are now just discovering this timeless and beautiful story for the first time. Hopefully your words will give them a better understanding of who Erik is, and then they will not just percieve him as an evil villian who wants to steal Christine from Raoul.

I believe Erik truly loves Christine, but the way he had been treated by society, during the Victorian Era. (which would have been very cruel; for reactions upon things they do not understand, nor do they want to. )

Thank you immensely for this wonderful post. I truly do look forward to reading more.

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