I'd like to talk about Little Lotte, where the name came from, why Raoul called her as such, and what areas of Christine’s childhood molded her into the person we see with the Phantom that perhaps influenced the choices she made in her life.
The name “Little Lotte” is actually from a poem entitled, “A Child’s First Sorrow” by Andreas Munch, a Norwegian Poet in the early 19th century. Leroux in his original works writes the first verse as follows, “Little Lotte thought of everything and nothing.” He changes the remaining of the verse as follows: “Her hair was golden as the sun's rays and her soul as clear and blue as her eyes. She wheedled her mother, was kind to her doll, took great care of her frock and her little red shoes and her fiddle, but most of all loved, when she went to sleep, to hear the Angel of Music." Leroux writes that her father told this story in front of Raoul, who picked up the name Lotte. Interesting as well, Leroux states her father always wove the tale of the Angel of Music in any story he told. Perhaps that is why the verse is changed.
However, the original poem by Munch translates:
“Little Lotte thought of everything and nothing. Like a butterfly she flew about in the gold of the sun. In her golden curls she the wore the crown of spring, and her gaze was the like the heavens, so bright blue and clear.”
The poem itself is about a little girl who rescues a bird in the wintertime and nurses it back to health. When spring arrives, the bird wants to leave and fly away, but Lotte keeps the bird caged instead, not realizing it wishes its freedom in order to live. One morning as she comes to feed it, she finds the bird dead at the bottom of the cage, and this becomes her first introduction to sorrow and grief in life.
"The sweet childhood blush faded from her cheeks, and slowly from her heart a dark pain rose. She could not know, what this pain was; but sorrow had written its first rune in her heart. And marked its image deep on her soft features. No longer did it disappear with her last tear.”
In the original story, Christine Daee’s mother passed away when she was six years old. The following years with her father were filled with poverty and wandering. As I read the story itself, to me it seems her father truly never recovers from the death of his wife, and as a result Christine’s life is unstable for quite some time. She sleeps in barns, travels from fair to fair, sings for street audiences, while her father plays the violin and makes a meager living at it. It is only when a Professor and his wife befriend them that Christine begins to have any type of stability. She now has a roof over her head, and they provide for her education.
Her father, however, is still depressed and eventually passes away. From what I can gather backtracking the story, her father’s passing comes much later in her early teens, rather than as a young child portrayed in the movie. Christine, as we all know, grieves over the death of her father for quite some time, and I find the last few verses of the poem revealing – especially the words that death, “marked its image deep on her soft features.” Truly, the death of her father had a profound effect upon her need for someone to fulfill a father figure in her life.
As I think about her reasons for the choices she makes in this story, I believe they were motivated by her childhood in many ways. Christine was seeking security and found that in Raoul. She wanted someone to care and watch over her. Her childhood, riddled in its early years with isolation, had a profound effect on her development. No doubt life with her father wandering from village to village, produced a life of instability and great dependence upon her father, which made it so difficult for her to let go of him in many ways.
The choice the Phantom gave her, a life of isolation in his world, may have played a role in why she ultimately choose a life with Raoul. A life with the Phantom would have been one reminiscent of her childhood. Instead, in essence, Christine yearned for a life of security and provision in the arms of Raoul, who she could trust to care for her. (Of course, this comment may produce screams from certain friends of mine she was a money-grubbing Diva after all! See! See! Private joke there.) Perhaps, as well, she wanted a sense of family the de Chagny's could provide after being orphaned at a young age, which she would otherwise not have with Erik. In the end, how we grow up as children does influence the decisions we make in life and the and motivations behind them.
So what else can you glean from the poem above about the poor bird that was locked up in a cage and died because it wasn’t granted its freedom? I suppose that if you dig hard enough, you might find symbolism in that morsel as well.
Your obedient servant,
The Phantom's Student
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