Le Fantôme de l’Opéra

Day 20) T is for Translated: Choose a book that was Translated from one language to English

PhantomoftheOpera

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Yes, I know I said I wouldn’t talk about this book. However, as I was trying to think of books I like that were originally in another language, I couldn’t think of anything but this book and Jules Verne’s novels.

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I already reviewed two Verne books, so with nothing else coming to mind, I decided to review The Phantom of the Opera.

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Gaston Leroux studied to be a lawyer, but when his father died, he found himself a millionaire. He immediately quit school and went on a big spending/gambling spree losing everything.

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Afterwards, he began to work for a newspaper, doubling as a court reporter and a drama critic. As he toured the opera, ballets, plays, etc.; and heard different stories about what went on in the theaters, it gave him an idea.

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With that he published The Phantom of the Opera as a serial from 1909-1910, being translated and published in English in 1911. The story is told from the viewpoint of an interviewer as he researches his subject and tries to tell the history of this Phantom.

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Growing up I just loved this book so much. I used to check out the children’s version again and again; graduating to the unabridged when I grew older.

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So here I am going to do a slightly different post, I am going to focus on one character: the Phantom.

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I just love him:

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Erik is a wanderer. After being hurt by so many he no longer considers him as having an nationality or family.

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His pain originates from when he was a child and his own parents were too disgusted to see his “true form.”

“When my own father never saw me and when my mother, so as not to see me, made me a present of my first mask.” (pg. 130)

Aw, man.

Aw, man.

He is so often used to being considered as death, that he has even prepared him room as such. All in black and even sleeps in a coffin. How sad is that? Poor guy!

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But even in that ugliness and sadness there is beauty. He is a musical genius with a voice like no other.

“He heard a very captivating voice…Raoul had never heard anything more absolutely and heroically sweet, more gloriously insidious, more delicate, more powerful, in short, more irresistibly triumphant…nothing could describe the passion with which the voice sang…” (pg. 98)

Erik is very intelligent and has done many things before coming to the opera house and meeting Christine.

“You must not think, Raoul, that he [Erik] is simply a man who amuses himself by living underground. He does things that no man could do; he knows things which nobody in the world knows.” (pg. 135)

I mean he built THAT opera house and created numerous trap doors, spring sets, his own secret underground home. And that’s not the only thing he has created. He built palaces for Sultans and Kings; but always being betrayed by them as they want him dead so that they alone can posses his genius.

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One day the Phantom comes upon Christine and decides to help assist her to become a fantastic singer.

“From that time onward, the voice and I became great friends.” (pg. 116)

They spend years together as the Phantom puts his all into teaching her and helping her. Then one day Christine spots Raoul and tells the phantom all about seeing him. And the voice disappears. Christine is anxious and scared. She knows she is nothing without him, she will shrivel up into a has-been.

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The next day the Phantom comes and tells her he has to leave her.

“The voice was there, spoke to me with great sadness and told me plainly that, if I must bestow my heart on earth, there was nothing for the voice to do but go back to heaven.” (pg. 117)

You see, no threats. No harsh words. The Phantom would have simply backed off if she loved another. He would be heartbroken, but that would be the end of it. Except…

“I swore to the voice that you were no more than a brother to me nor ever would be and that my heart was incapable of any earthly love.” (pg. 117)

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You see that!!!! You see that!!! She purposely leads on the Phantom because she just wants to use him. She doesn’t love him, she doesn’t care for him, as she has stated before:

“[to Raoul] And that, dear, first revealed to me that I loved you.” (pg. 117)

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She knew, but she had a good thing and didn’t want to see it disappear. Now she tells Raoul that she “lied only because she thought she had no chance with Raoul.” But is that even the truth? She already admitted to playing the Phantom, she’s probably playing Raoul too. He’s rich and interested, and now she’s going to play the little helpless victim to catch him.

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So you know what, I never feel sorry for her. She created this whole mess as she only cared about herself and not what her false declarations did to people. She almost kills hundreds because of her selfishness. I feel bad for the Phantom. Poor guy, who is completely crushed by her. He picked the wrong woman.

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Then the Phantom carries her off underground into his home.

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Now I admit, his carrying her off wasn’t the right thing to do. He should have asked her instead of just carrying her like that. But what does he do next? He confesses that he isn’t an angel or teacher but that he is the Phantom of the Opera, its architect, etc.

“He [Erik] feels me with horror and I do not hate him. How can I hate him Raoul? Think of Erik at my feet…he accuses himself, he curses himself, he implores my forgiveness!…He loves me! He lays at my feet an immense and tragic love…He has carried me off for love!” (pg. 125)

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He treats her wonderfully. He respects her as a thing of beauty and doesn’t harm her or touch her. And when she is upset and wants to leave?

“And, when I stood up, Raoul, and told him that I could only despise him if he did not, then and there, give me my liberty…he offered it…” (pg. 125)

See he isn’t a crazy killer or psychotic (yet). He loves her and respects her wishes. She’s the viper, she’s evil as she chooses to stay there even though she doesn’t love him, she just wants to use him.

“For he sang. And I listened…and stayed!” (pg. 125)

She falls asleep and then wakes up in a whole different room, properly freaked. BUT then spots a note left to her by the Phantom.

“My dear Christine, you need have no concern as to your fate. You have no better nor more respectful friend in the world than myself.” (pg. 126)

He just let her alone, as he sees her as the kindest and most divine woman; respecting her. He also purchases tons of things for her in order to make the place truly home.

How sweet!

How sweet!

But Christine is not happy. She wants out. She is angry with the Phantom, even though he has given her everything! All she wants is to see his face as “no honest man would wear a mask.” But that is the one place Erik won’t give.

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Then Erik mentions how most of her time with him will be musical practice. She is angry as he wants her to stay five days, then he will let her go again as she will either love him (hope) or pity him. But Christine is now upset that he won’t let her go now, but hey he offered you before.

She cannot make up her mind.

She cannot make up her mind.

The real issue Christine has with the Phantom is his skull-like face. This is what breaks her and makes her horrified and disgusted. She can’t leave well enough alone, and asks him to play for her, plotting her deception. When he is too worked up in the music she snatches the mask off.

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Now she thinks he is disgusting, and here is where he makes his first incredibly bad decision.

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He tells Christine that he can’t let her go. He knows that she sees him only as a monster, and if returned to the surface would tell others of the “monster”, causing them to be riled up, create a mob, and set out to kill him.

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Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

Christine, the little actress she is, starts playing to the areas he has been insecure. She tells him that he is genius, his music causes her to forget his looks. She even burns his mask to symbolize that she is “above” such things. In reality she is playing him  from every angle, earning his trust so that he is willing to believe she actually loves him and won’t harm him. Letting her go.

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Christine acts as if he is a true monster, but the Phantom has a compassionate heart. She asks if she can pretend to “be engaged”, playacting, with Raoul and the Phantom agrees.

“He said, ‘I trust you, Christine. M. de Chagny [Raoul] is in love with you and going abroad. Before he goes, I want him to be as happy as I am.” (pg. 134)

How can someone be unfeeling when they consider what their arch rival’s feelings?

How sweet!

How sweet!

Eventually, the Phantom figures out the truth, that this was all a set up and steals Christine away; that final act of betrayal being the straw that broke the camels back.

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I mean he really believed that someone had fallen in love with him.

“It is my wish…my wish to let her go; and she will come again…for she loves me!…All this will end in marriage…” (pg. 206)

He thinks his dream and true love is in his grasp!

“…Now I want to live like everybody else. I want a wife like everybody else and to take her out on Sundays. I have invented a mask that makes me look like anybody…All I have ever wanted was to be loved for myself…” (214)

The thing I really hate about the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is how the changed the relationship between Christine and the Phantom with her thinking if him as her father and making Raoul less of the pansy he was. But most of all they make the Phantom a total psychi and murderer. He doesn’t really kill people in the book, unless it is for self-preservation. We only witness three: two were out trying to get him, and the third he accidentally kills Raoul’s brother, who when searching for him falls into a trap. The Phantom really regrets having killed him. And he also does bring the chandelier down, which injures and kills. How many, we don’t know.

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He then gives Christina an option. She can choose Raoul and the Opera house will be blown up (as Erik has hidden dynamite under the floor when he built it) or she can choose him and save everyone. I have to admit that forcing her to choose marrying him was not right or what she should do, but people who have been betrayed often do not think logically but just want to heart the person who hurt them.

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But in the end he let’s Christine go, because she finally gave him the one thing he has most wanted: companionship and love:

“I tell you I kissed her just like that, on her forehead…and she did not draw back her forehead from my lips! (pg. 247)

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Poor 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 or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must pity the opera ghost.” (pg. 259)

Leave me alone so I can cry over the death of my fictional characters

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 I think what resonates the most with this story is how relatable the Phantom was. Who of us hasn’t at one time hated how we looked?

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Had our heart broken:

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Been betrayed by someone we thought cared about us?

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Or felt we hadn’t received the recognition we deserved?

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What else can I say?

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Why yes I do!

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Starting in 2015, I decided to dress up “Jane Austen” in Halloween costumes. Check her out as the Bride of Frankenstein.

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Stupid Not to Read Jane Austen Quote

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to Each Illustration is a Little Story. If You Watch Them, In a Few Minutes They Tell You a Tale: The Illustrated Man

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For more on The Phantom of the Opera, go to How to Meet the Perfect Guy

For more on Gaston Leroux, go to Fantom of the Opera

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more Silverstein, go to The End by Silverstein

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Today’s carol is The First White Christmas from the claymation, The First Christmas:The Story of the First Christmas Snow.

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I couldn’t find any info on the song, but they play it in the opening and ending credits. I always thought it was cute, and it tends to get stuck in my head.

I couldn’t find a video unfortunately, or a good link to watch the film (as they took down the best one).

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For more on The First Christmas:The Story of the First Christmas Snow, go to 25 More Films of Christmas

For more Christmas Carols, go to She Struck Him as a Fixer-Upper, a Block of Clay Ready for Pygmalion’s Chisel: The Overnight Socialite

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Changes, Turn and Face the Strange

So as you all know, David Bowie died yesterday.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

I know, it is heartbreaking.

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Such an amazing artist. Such great music! I loved him. All of his fantastic songs and lyrics will live on.

Good-bye you amazing man. Good-bye. Life without you will be strange.

😦

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For more posts dedicated to stars I love, go to Classic Clint

 

Unsung Austen Men: Mr. Weston

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Mr. Weston is shown in the Emma films, but kind of passed over to be only a minor character. We see him as the one who takes Miss Taylor away, as she becomes Mrs. Weston, an act that encourages Emma to believe she can control others lives and make them fall in love.

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We see him again as the father of Frank, encouraging him to visit and (pair up with Emma), but that’s really all.

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Not Important

However, Jane Austen never goes halfway on a project and devoted much more time and a whole chapter on his sad back story. Mr. Weston is an incredibly dear man, who’s story is actually pretty heartbreaking. So grab your tissues and get ready for it.

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So Mr Weston was born into a pretty well off family, that with every generation rose higher in respectability and gentility. He received a good education, and instead of pursuing business like his brothers, he decided to join the military.

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As Captain Weston he was invited into many homes, meeting a wealthy, beautiful woman, Miss Churchill.

It was love at first sight. Everyone approved except Mrs. Churchill (mother) and Mr. Churchill (brother). You see the Churchills were of a higher stock and thought that marrying into military was so far below them.

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It didn’t matter to Miss Churchill and she refused to listen to her relatives, only having eyes for Mr. Weston. She married Mr. Weston anyways, and because she disobeyed her family (and wasn’t in total control of her wealth) her relatives disowned her and refused to give her a single penny.

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Even though Mr. Weston was an incredibly kind and sweet man, the marriage was unhappy. Now as Mrs. Weston, she found herself unhappy as they couldn’t afford the lifestyle she was used to. They lived beyond there income and nothing was as great as when she was Miss Churchill.

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Three years after they were married, Mrs. Weston died leaving Mr. Weston in great debt and with a baby to take care of.

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So this is the extreme low point for Mr. Weston. He has done everything in his power to take care of his wife and make her happy, but nothing is good enough. Then she becomes sick and dies and now he has incredible debt, horrible grief, and a baby to take care of.

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He is completely unsure of what to do, when Mr. and Mrs. Churchill come snaking in and ask for the child. Poor Mr. Weston, how he must have felt being asked to give up his child. But he does as he knows it is the best thing for him. The Churchills (his late wife’s brother’s family) have no children of their own and are quite wealthy. They could give his son Frank everything, stability, two parents, education, toys, horses, etc. So he does it. It makes sense, but it still breaks his heart.

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This always reminds me of Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackery, when widowed Amelia holds onto her son as long as she can, but when she realizes that she won’t be able to truly care for his needs she gives him to his rich relatives to rear instead. It is such a heartbreaking scene.

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Mr. Weston decides to start over, moving to Highbury and working with his brothers. He begans to build everything up again, but he doesn’t send for his child as he knows the other family is more stable and he wants Frank to grow up with every advantage.

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Meanwhile as Frank is reared by his uncle and is set to inherit everything, he wants to be adopted by him and go by Churchill instead of Weston. How much that must of hurt to not only lost your son’s childhood, but adulthood as well to another person.

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Mr. Weston does see his son every year, and the two have a relationship. But poor Mr. Weston, to lose the role of father, and instead be more of an uncle.

But even with all these hardships, Mr. Weston has such a positive outlook on life and believes that he will build his life up, and marry again one day.

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And so his tale does have a happy ending, as this poor, broken, lonely man is able to find true love once again; in Miss Taylor. A woman who doesn’t need fancy trappings or riches, but just a home and Mr. Weston.

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For more on Emma, go to Credit Where Credit is Due

Credit Where Credit is Due

Have you ever taken credit for something you didn’t do or was out of your hands to create?

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It’s not to say that you were trying to steal someone else’s thoughts, creation, or work. It’s just you are trying to take full credit for something you really had no true control over.

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Well then you are just like Emma when she believes she is the one who brought Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston together.

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Now a lot of people laugh at how conceited Emma is in this scene, but this is actually something a lot of people fall into.

Say What

For all you sports fans, think about the last game you saw in which your team won because “you wore a special shirt or socks”. Or how about the fact you won a prize because you chose your “lucky number”? Or the time you won a game because you “blew luck into the dice”? Or getting a certain space in Monopoly because you “claimed” it? Or the time you passed a test because you wore a “lucky” piece of clothing? Yep, we humans love to claim that some act we did caused a realignment in the cosmos and brought about something we desired.

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In reality, none of our little “lucky” things or claims did anything to affect it. It was out of our control the whole time, but we feel better having done “something”. It makes us feel in control.

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In Emma, Emma Woodhouse’s governess and best friend has just married the widower Mr. Weston. Emma is convinced that she is the one who made it all happen, as four years ago when everyone said Mr. Weston would never marry, she was determined to prove them all wrong.

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However, there is a huge problem with this thought. In thinking that she did everything, Emma is totally disregarding the feelings of her mentor and Mr. Weston. Because she was lucky in her guess, she believes she is the one who made all the decisions, a true puppet master.

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I don't think so

Sorry Emma, that’s not how it works. People are like cats, they don’t do something because you want them to. They do what they want to do.

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If they want to be together, they will try to get together. But if they don’t want to get together, then it’s not going to work out.

No thank you

As Mr. Knightley says it:

“I do not understand what you mean by ‘success’, said Mr Knightley. “Success supposes endeavor…But if, which I rather imagine, your making the match, as you call it, means only your planning it, your saying to yourself one idle day, ‘I think it would be a very good thing for Miss Taylor if Mr. Weston were to marry her,’ and saying it again to yourself every now and then afterwards, why do you talk of success? Where is your merit? You made a lucky guess; and that is all that can be said.”

Unfortunately, like most people, Emma won’t listen to him as she is adamant that her thoughts and suppositions had a true effect on the real world.

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And is now determined to set her sights on someone else, fixing them up and proving to Mr. Knightley that she is in control.

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And how will this turn out for Emma? Keep following to find out!

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For more on Emma, go to All By Myself