Saturday, April 17, 2010

Madame Giry in LND

"Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
The Bible

Madame Giry in Love Never Dies still dresses in a black gown and wears her black hair in the same tightly coiled bun on top of her head. For this dissection, we will stay focused upon Madame Giry as portrayed in Webber's original stage version and in Love Never Dies. To diverge to Leroux or even to the explanations in the movie, will mix the pot far too much. However, I think people will pot mix anyway to draw conclusions or find their own interpretations.

What do we know about Madame Giry from the original Webber version of Phantom of the Opera? Not a whole lot! Where did she come from? Don’t know. Who is the father of Meg? Don’t know. Why does she like to pound a cane on stage? Don’t know. Was she once a proficient ballet performer herself? Don’t know. Was she ever married? Don’t know. Let’s face it, we have very little background in Webber’s version. If you need to know more, go talk to Leroux or pen your own conclusions.

What do we know from the original?  She cared for Christine as a daughter after her father's death.  She delivers the Phantom’s notes to everyone. She warns everybody to keep their hands at the level of their eyes.  She is the stern ballet mistress to a bunch of giddy little girls. She knows the Phantom tutors Christine and pushes her into the spotlight.  She has a daughter she pushes to be a proficient ballet dancer as well.

What does she think of the Phantom? She’s proud of who he is and declares his good points - he is a genius, architect, designer, composer, and magician…a genius (gets that in there twice so we know how smart he is!). She warns others of his bad points and tendency to strangle. She’s aware the Phantom sees all, knows all, and is capable of dastardly things! She hid him as a child from the cruelties of the world, and over the course of time became a mother figure of sorts to the disfigured lad who grew into manhood underneath the Opera House. She has done his bidding and faithfully served him without complaint.

We know from the story of Love Never Dies that she continued  to care for him. Like a loving parent, she has gone out of her way to see that he succeeds in his new life, even at the expense of her daughter. (Playing favorites are we?) She hid him again from the world, even after all the dastardly things he had done to Christine and Raoul, along with bringing down the chandelier. The Phantom never had the chance to reap any consequences for his behavior, because Madame Giry rescued him…again.

Ten years later, in a fit of frustration over what her pseudo son has become, she lets him have it! He gets a verbal lashing and recap of all her sacrifice on his behalf and tells him he is ungrateful man who can’t get his act together. (Gee, sounds to me like a mother and son discussion during turbulent teenage years.)

No use rehashing all the words spoken in that scene of the show. The woman has poured her life out for one man since he was a boy. Let’s face it, she’s a tad bit frustrated to say the least and probably menopausal too at her age – a lethal combination.

There is a lot going on inside that tightly wound bun upon Madame Giry’s head. It appears the coil has finally sprung. She’s disappointed in the Phantom. She’s bitter because she gave her life and received nothing in return. She’s upset because her daughter wants his approval but never receives it. She aging, and now everything she had worked for will be given to his own son – who will care for her and Meg now? There goes her retirement years!

If we look at Madame Giry a bit closer, you might see that deep down inside she is reacting like a parent with a terribly disappointing child. She is a woman filled with bitterness, because all the love, care, and concern she has poured into the Phantom has not reaped the outcome she hoped.

The question came to mind as I wrote in my original post about Madame Giry (follow link here) she could be partially to blame for the Phantom’s immature development. After all, she hid him from the cruelties of the world and rescued him from reaping consequences in his life more than one time. Do you think she was a good mother to Meg? Chew on that one.

Everyone has a breaking point in life where hurts pile up, disappointments bury us, and bitterness results. Madame Giry has played her own part in this play of characters; and though she blames the Phantom for most of her woes, she is a tad bit guilty for the outcome. Like any psychological playground, there is a wealth of possibilities here to explain her actions in Love Never Dies.

What do you think about Madame Giry now? Is she just an old biddy with a bad attitude, another character stuck in a bad plot, or a woman who feels unappreciated, disappointed, and resentful? If you know anything about personality traits, people who are chronic “rescuers” often end up with those feelings, because they are spent, frustrated, and empty inside.  It's the perfect breeding ground for bitterness.

As usual, I’ve poked, now go think it over and come up with your own interpretation of the tightly wound bun in a black taffeta dress. Comments are welcome!

As always, I am your obedient servant too!
The Phantom's Student

1 comment:

thirza17 said...

I have been thinking about Madame Giry's "evolution" in the 10 years between stories. She is my favorite character in the Phantom story so her shift to bitterness has bothered me tremendously but I have come to a conclusion which I think may make sense.

I feel that Madame Giry and Erik had a relationship which can explain her willingness to help him and hide him from the world that hated him. She fell in love with his music, the way Christine did, but as the one who cared for him and provided for him, she expects at least, a thank you. I believe that Meg is their daughter but Erik either never took to her or Madame Giry never told him. I think that it's because this that she turns into a bitter women who is trying to show him that they too have a child together that also has talent. In comes Christine who he becomes obsessed with because of her voice and all of the work that Madame Giry and Meg have done to get him to Coney Island, build his business and pay off his debts, goes unappreciated and thankless. Mind you, I have yet to see LND but have listened to the soundtrack a million times already and this is what I can truly decipher. Even after reading Leroux's novel, I insisted in my mind that there was more to Madame Giry and the Phantom's relationship than being a trusted usher and servant.

Just my thoughts....thanks for letting me express them. :-)