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Essay/Term paper: Phantom of the opera

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Papers

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Ben Brown


November 17, 1999

Phantom of the Opera

In the novel, Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux, we are introduced to a character

known to everyone as the mysterious Opera Ghost. His character in this book is very complex.

Although the Opera Ghost is very ugly physically and mentally, through his actions, we can find

much beauty.

During the masked ball we are given, what the reader believes at the time, a very good

physical description of the Opera Ghost. At the masked ball the Opera Ghost does a perfect job

imitating death. "The Grim Reaper himself must have posed for it," the on looking crowd would

comment. But the hideous thing that he wears upon his head is, in fact, only a mask. What he

hides underneath the mask is more wretched than anything imaginable to men. The Opera Ghost

was, "Made up entirely of death,"(138). He was so disgustingly ugly that, "his mother would

never let him kiss her, she would throw his mask at him and run away,"(263). Poor Erik"s life

knows nothing but ugliness.

We see more of the Opera Ghost"s ugliness when we read of the Persians description of

the Opera Ghost"s love of torture. Before the Opera, Erik designs torture chambers for a little

sultana in Persia. His design was just a small room with six walls, with each wall being a mirror.

There is also a tree with a Punjab Lasso. The Opera Ghost"s idea of torture was not so much

physical pain, but a torture in which a victim would go mad, and in their madness, they would kill

themselves. On the outside of each one of these chambers there is a place the Opera watches his

victims while they were going mad. Erik truly was ugly, not only physically, but mentally.

We are given our first example of Erik"s beauty when Raoul is spying on Christine in her

dressing room. He starts to hear a beautiful sound that seems to coming all around him. He sees

no one in the room, but the music starts to get louder and more definite. "A voice that unites all

extremes at once,"(103), Raoul tells, without knowing of the ugliness of the character from which

it comes. Raoul continues to praise the voice as, "heroically sweet..., so delicate in strength, so

strong in delicacy, and so irresistibly triumphant,(103). This clearly shows that, without knowing

the physical ugliness of the Opera Ghost, a body could enjoy his beautiful voice.

Another example of Erik"s beauty comes through his love of Christine. At the end of the

novel the Opera Ghost is talking to the Persian. The Persians asks Erik why he decided to spare

the live of himself, as well as the life of his enemy, Viscount Raoul de Chagny. "I(Opera Ghost),

felt her tears dropping on my forehead..., I took off my mask and she didn"t die..., I then heard her

say, "poor, unhappy Erik" and from then on I was only a poor dog,"(263). "I (Erik), told her that

she could marry her young man..., it was like cutting my own heart into little pieces,"(264).

Through Erik"s selfless love for Christine we find his beauty. 

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