Friday, May 8, 2009

Poor Unhappy Erik

Poor, unhappy Erik! Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? He asked only to be "some one," like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius…when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind!

Gaston Leroux, Fantôme de l’Opera

My book has been published, however, I’m still getting emails “don’t stop posting”! You all know how much I love this story, and if I can squeeze any more life lessons out of it, I will try. Occasionally, as inspiration calls and I read again Gaston Leroux’s original work, I will post. Maybe someday I'll publish an updated version to my book. Hopefully, the new posts will be unique and fresh. As you all know by now I don’t write from a literary viewpoint. My posts come from my heart and human viewpoint, so that life lessons can be gleaned from the characters in the story.

The above quote from the original novel poses two questions to its readers regarding Erik. After you’ve read the story, Monsieur Leroux wants to know how you feel about the Opera Ghost. Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? His next statement is a profound truth of mankind, that Erik was deemed unworthy because he was too ugly. He was a genius in his own right, but was forced to hide because he did not possess an ordinary face. Society would not accept him based on his outward appearance, and hence his talented gifts never distinguished him with mankind.

It’s no secret that beauty is revered and rewarded, and ugliness is disdained and shunned. We judge abilities, worth, and talents by the outward appearance of man, rather than the inward gifts they may possess. If talented gifts are not wrapped in a visually appealing package, we rarely pay any attention. I think the phenomenon of Susan Boyle is a prime example of gifted talent without beauty that went unnoticed.

I love beauty just as much as the next person, and I often wonder when we look upon another person what makes them attractive to us or not? Why does our brain distinguish between beauty and ugliness? Long ago when the Twilight Zone was a big hit on TV (boy that dates me), I distinctly remember one episode where the tables were turned. All the ugly people were deemed beautiful, and all the beautiful people were deemed ugly, and as a result they suffered prejudice in society due to their appearance.

So the question still stands? Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? When you see a deformed person, do you pity them for their lot in life or do you turn way in disgust because of their ugliness? Remember once again, that the true value of beauty is determined by what’s in our heart. One can be beautiful on the outside, and truly ugly on the inside.

As always, I'm back to poking at you!

The Phantom’s Student


Sage said...

The Phantom of the Opera has taught me many things. Compassion is one of the most important gifts you can give someone. Honestly, I can no longer stand to see or hear people making fun of somebody else maliciously. I've begun to wonder more about people's motives in doing and saying things. Whenever I see a spider, I think of Erik in Susan Kay's novel Phantom. He compared himself to a spider and later in the book was reluctant to kill them for Christine.

However, being human I cannot say that I'm perfect. I still find myself thinking poorly of people. When someone does something wrong, think to myself "God. This chick really needs to shut her trap," or "Stupid jerk," instead of saying to myself "I wonder why they might be acting that way. What made them do that?" I still cringe at most spiders.

It's the same way with appearences. If I see someone who I don't recocnise and is incredibly hideous, of course I'll stare. It's a shameful part of human nature. However, I'm proud to say that I'm more relaxed about appearences than many people I know. What would happen if I saw someone looking like an unmasked Erik walking down the street? No doubt I'll stare. Would I run away gaging? Maybe, maybe not. Hopefully not.

The Phantom of the Opera has taught me many lessons, and you've been a big help in learning more. It's easy to remember the lessons I've learned through this story as well as the values. The difficult part is remembering to use them. Though, I must say, I think I've gotten a bit better. I don't rely of beauty to decide what I think about people. I never did and I'm proud to say that I don't think I ever will.

Swansong said...

My answer to the question is that I love Erik. To a lesser degree, I live with my own Musical Genius whose outward appearance is not traditionally handsome. I speak of my son who is a wonderful composer but whose body is deformed and scarred due to illness. People, (especially women), do reject him because of his looks, but fortunately, unlike Erik, he has parents and a support system to remind of his value as a human being. He's doing okay!

I'd like to share something from my site regarding an early childhood experience where my own heart was put to the test:

Thanks, Vicki, for your inspiration and insight. Swannie

Mary Anne Gruen said...

My mother taught me to give people respect no matter what their appearance. To neither stare nor be overly sympathetic because pity lends distance just as much as staring does. She taught me to treat everyone in the same respectful way.

For myself, I found myself pulling for Eric, wanting him to find some happiness in a world that would give him none. Just as I cheered Susan Boyle and wept as I listened to her and saw the faces in the crowd before her change from contempt to admiration.

Anonymous said...

whenever i read this book, i cant help thinking what mean people the parisians were to allow him to feel alone and unwanted all his life. we think that we would understand and would accept him if we were from that time, the truth is i dont think anyone wouldve pitied him, and not just because of his looks. you would hear rumors of the "deaths head" and would shake in fear. imagain how his life must of felt. the only thing he ever loved was music, and christine, yet, those were the two things that he could not truely show the world. he said he wanted to be like us, a family, a wife, a proper home. in the end he died, alone and he blocked off the entrances to his home so that he may rest in peace with his Don Juan. he didnt think he could ever be loved. we need to leave him be, he wanted to be alone in the end, not discovered and crowed around, hearing people once again react badly to his appearance, no, we must think about what we had in life,our homes and families, and relise Erik never had this. he was abused as a child. but instead of forgetting him, we must charish the memory of him. respect who he was and how even when he was alone, every knew him. we must keep him alive in our hearts and remember him, tell his story to our children, and let erik, rest in peace, his final thought, that he was loved and he tasted all the happiness the world had to offer. we must respect the true angel of music and remember what it mustof felt like. people say should we pity him or should we curse him? this is not a question, for as a question you have to really think about the answer. no, if he was alone all on his own for his whole life, he couldntve known right and wrong. its an insult to even think that he was evil. he wanted to be loved and its cruel to think he was a pure demon when really all he wanted was the woman of his dreams, and who can blame him. think of your loved ones, how far would you go. we all do stupid things, but great ones to. erik was not a devil, but an angel. yes. an angel of music. and now he is in heaven, where he can live forever and will once again feel loved.

oh erik, angel of music. we pity you and will never forget you. people hear you are meant to hear you. we pity that you we alone, but even yourself said you were happy in the end. we must not accuse that, for many of us have never felt happiness like that, and lonliness was the price to pay for that short period. we all have our hopes and dreams, we are thankful that in the end, you found your happiness. may your spirt never die, for it is within us all.

oh erik, we pity you. thank you for speaking to me.