Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Horror Of It All

As I focus on Leroux the second half of my blog, one element I haven’t talked about before is horror. Le Fantôme de l'Opéra falls within the genre of Gothic literature, which inherently includes the elements of both horror and romance combined together.

Leroux’s book is filled with instances of extreme emotion, fearfulness, ghosts, dark cellars, danger, death, decay, disfigurement, and a madman the Persian calls a monster. On top of that, we have elements of kidnapping, captivity, bondage, torture, strangulation, and death.

The setting is dark and mysterious. A ghost lives in the cellars underneath the Opera House and sleeps in a coffin. The path to his lair is filled with dark creepy corridors, dangerous trap doors, and an ominous lake that takes lives.

Leroux weaves symbolism throughout the book touching on the darker side. There are references to hell, damnation, graveyards, and the devil. Even another horror writer, Edgar Allen Poe’s work, Red Death, is woven into the story. I’m sure if you look hard enough, you can find many more symbols of horror throughout with the intent to frighten the reader.

As I write this blog, I’m back to my curiosity of human behavior. You know, I’ve termed The Phantom of the Opera my psychological playground, and this is definitely one that takes me to the sandbox.

So what is it about the genre of horror fiction that attracts us for entertainment purposes? We love to watch aliens invade earth, vampires sucking blood out of necks, monsters on rampages, and ugly men capture beautiful girls dragging them to their lair. Theaters entertain people with thrills of chain saw massacres and humans eating humans. Gothic novels about the darker side of horror and romance are big business, as well as films that dabble on the dark side.

Perhaps it’s the adrenalin rush we get having the daylights scared out of us or it is true that human nature loves darkness rather than light. I’m sure, unless you’re a little psycho yourself, you really wouldn’t wish to be on the receiving end of some of these horrific acts. Frankly, I don’t think I would have liked being kidnapped and dragged down to the Opera House cellars and bound by a disfigured madman who could blow me to smithereens!

As for Gothic literature, it appears we like to throw in the element of romance to smooth the rough edges of horror itself. The character gives in to the darker side and falls in love with the creepy guy with a mask or the blood sucking vampire. Somehow, I guess that makes it better and appeals to those women who love those bad-boys or their captors.

Whatever the reason, The Phantom of the Opera is a classic Gothic romance and horror literature. It contains all the elements of fright and love mixed together. On August 22 we'll be discussing the horror element of the story on All Things Phantom on BlogTalkRadio. I'm curious what others think about the subject, and I hope you'll join us.

The Phantom's Student

All Things Phantom on BlogTalkRadio

No comments: