The Phantom of the opera
by Gaston Leroux.
After years of this book just sitting on my bookshelf, I finally decided to read The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. This is a story of a man named Erik and his obsession with a young soprano Christine Daae. The story is a Gothic romance set in the 1880s in Paris and is said to loosely based on true events at the Opera House.
The story begins with strange happenings in the Opera house in Paris. The place is believed to be haunted and many performers and organizers have reported sightings of the ‘opera ghost’ over the years. The ghost is revealed to be an actual person who is deformed in appearance and is an engimatic figure in the beginning. Christine Daae is a talented and beautiful young performer at the opera house and has lived there since the death of her parents. Raoul is an old friend of Christine’s who wishes to marry her. Erik, the phantom is considered the angel of music by Christine but he becomes obsessed with her.
The narrator of the story focuses actions of the opera ghost and how these actions affect the other characters around him, especially Christine Daae and Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny. The opera ghost is a man named Erik; he is a horrific and ruthless man, who is capable of doing anything without any remorse if it means him getting his way. The start of the novel was a little slow-paced I thought but it picks up speed pretty quickly.
The characterization of Erik is done mostly through flashbacks which makes it somewhat easier to understand his behavior and where it stems from. Erik’s mother has never loved him because of his deformed appearance which prompted him to run away from home at a young age. It seems his obsession with Christine stems from being unloved by his mother. Later, we find out that Erik isn’t his real name at all. Christine’s closeness to Raoul makes Ereally jealous and he goes as far as kidnapping Christine and tries to blackmail her into loving him.
There is a lot of focus on the love story of Christine and Raoul which is well thought out. The mystery element of the novel never ceased to amuse me while I was reading the novel. The suspense and mystery is a major theme of the novel and it works very well. It is hard not to feel bad for Erik; he is sad and lonely and desperately and Christine to love him. At one point in the book, though Erik is being completely irrational, Christine can’t help but feel pity for him and I felt the same way. The end of the novel is bittersweet. Christine and Raoul elope together but you can’t help feeling a little bad for Erik’s death.
The novel starts off slow so it took me a while to finish reading the book. The novel wasn’t exactly what I had expected it to be like but it was good nonetheless. Once the novel picks up pace, it keeps you hooked. I liked how the author has incorporated the flashbacks which give Erik’s backstory. Overall, I enjoyed the novel and liked it very much except the slow pace in the beginning.