Saturday, March 21, 2009


"Oh, I hate him!" cried Raoul.

If you are wondering how I pull all these tidbits of facts out of the story, it’s fairly simple. Gaston Leroux’s novel is public domain. You can search Google and find PDF forms of the book free. Once you download and save it to your computer, you have the ability to search text. I really encourage you to read the original work. As wonderful as the play and movie are, they really do not do the characters justice. Reading the original work, gives you the opportunity to research the history of the characters, discover their backgrounds, and understand their motivations.

Hate is another emotion referenced often in Leroux’s work, which motivates some of our characters throughout the story. Frankly, I cannot write about the meaning of love, without exploring the opposite of the spectrum, which is hate. Whenever we hate something or someone, it pretty much encompasses the emotions of revulsion, disgust, abhorrence, or detestation. In today’s vernacular, it just means we can’t stand something or someone. Have you ever hated anything or anyone?

Let’s look at some of the characters and the hatred they experience in the story. Of course, all of the references below come from Leroux’s version to help shed light upon everyone’s motivation.

Raoul’s hatred of Erik is the most pronounced. At least Leroux clearly states he struggles with hating Erik and at times is so mad at Christine, he expresses disgust toward her as well that she does not share the same feelings. The first instance where Leroux mentions Raoul’s hatred of Erik is when he is standing outside Christine’s dressing room door after the performance. He listens and hears Erik’s voice inside and Leroux writes:

“At one and the same time, he had learned what love meant, and hatred. He knew that he loved. He wanted to know whom he hated.”

Raoul discovers he has a rival for Christine’s affections. Our mild-mannered Raoul is struggling with an emotion that he apparently has never experienced with such intensity.

Later in the story, Raoul confronts Christine wanting to know if she hates Erik as well. "And you, Christine, tell me, do you hate him too?" Christine says she does not, and then he demands to know what feelings Erik does inspire in her if she does not hate him. Of course, he assumes that her feelings are those of love. Raoul, filled with what Leroux terms as “childish hatred,” sneers at her in a despicable manner. You cannot really blame the man. After all, he confesses that he worships the ground she walks upon. Hatred is a natural response toward those who betray our hearts.

What about Erik? Does he have a heart filled with hatred? Christine tells of a time when she sings a duet with Erik, and she describes the feelings he pours forth during the song.

“As for him, his voice thundered forth his revengeful soul at every note. Love, jealousy, hatred, burst out around us in harrowing cries.”

There is no doubt Erik hated Raoul and what he represented, as well as the world that showed him no compassion.

Christine, on the other hand, does not say she hates Erik. She confesses to Raoul, “He fills me with horror and I do not hate him.” Apparently, the love he has for her prevents her from hating him in return.

“How can I hate him, Raoul? Think of Erik at my feet, in the house on the lake, underground. He accuses himself, he curses himself, he implores my forgiveness! .He confesses his cheat. He loves me! He lays at my feet an immense and tragic love. He has carried me off for love! He has imprisoned me with him, underground, for love. But he respects me: he crawls, he moans, he weeps!”

As the story continues, it seems as if Raoul is the only one harboring hate in his heart for Erik. He inquires if the Persian feels as he does. “You must certainly hate Erik!" However, to his dismay, the Persian replies, "No, sir. I do not hate him. If I hated, he would long ago have ceased doing harm." The Persian confesses that he has forgiven Erik for any harm he received at his hand.

What is the antidote for hate? The wise Persian gives us what we all need to hear, “I have forgiven him the harm which he has done me." Truly, that is the only cure for hatred – a good dose of forgiveness. Hatred, like jealousy, is another one of those destructive emotions that has the tendency to destroy us from the inside out. We think that our hatred hurts the other person, but in reality, it only hurts us in the end. Forgiveness, of course, is the balm.

Do some people deserve our forgiveness for what they have done to us? Probably not. However, the story of The Phantom of the Opera is a story of redemption and a cry for love, not revenge. In order for one to be redeemed, one must be forgiven.

If you harbor hatred in your heart, take a lesson from the story and forgive. It will do your heart good.

The Phantom's Student

Order Lessons From the Phantom of the Opera in Paperback Here


Debbi said...

As I read Laroux, I was surprised by the constant under-current of hatred.

I never was comfortable with the hate heaped upon Erik, for no other reason than the way he looked. Probably because I experienced some of that kind of treatment.

While I understand Raoul's feelings, I do not sympathize. My alliance and sympathy will always lie at Erik's feet.

Yours, Knight Phantom

Pame! said...

Your blog is good, I love The Phantom of the Opera! :)