Identity Issues in The Phantom of the Opera

March 7, 2019 by Essay Writer

In the novel The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux, characters Christine and Raoul both suffer from identity issues due to their connection with their childhood. Both characters go through many complicated obstacles trying to figure out who they really are, along with what they really want. However, as a result of the dilemmas that Christine and Raoul both face, they are able to overcome these issues as a result of the troubles the both of them experience throughout the novel. In this paper, I will focus on the identity issues of both characters as well as the connection to their childhood. First, the text will explain how Christine and Raoul have these issues and what factors presented connect to their childhood. Next, the text will explain why there is a connection between the two characters. Finally, the text will compare how the characters overcome the issues and how they both have matured in the end of the novel in comparison to the beginning.

An important area to look at within the novel is how each of the characters are introduced, in order to create first impressions. When Leroux first introduces Christine in the novel, he writes, “No gala performance ever equalled this one. All the great composers of the day had conducted their own works in turns. Faure and Krauss had sung; and, on that evening, Christine Daae had revealed her true self, for the first time, to the astonished and enthusiastic audience” (21). The way that Christine’s character is introduced is interesting because it is such a loud and clear statement about her role in the novel, however, it is almost hypocritical, in a sense, because of the identity issues she faces with herself that makes her so hesitant of her own decisions. The way that Raoul is introduced has the same effect as the way that Christine is introduced. Leroux introduces him and portrays him as a weaker character, such as when he writes, “He was a little over twenty-one years of age and looked eighteen. He had a small, fair mustache, beautiful blue eyes and a complexion like a girl’s. Philippe spoiled Raoul” (24). The way that he is described makes him appear like a weaker character, or even as one that never had the chance to truly mature, because he is seen as the child of the family.

Christine and Raoul have known each other since they were children, when he saved her red scarf from the sea. Since they share this connection, they bond further when they become present in each other’s lives again when Raoul returns to the opera house to visit. Another reason that Christine has a strong connection to her childhood is because she was so attached to her father. Shortly before his death he explains to her that, “every great musician, every great artist received a visit from the Angel at least once in his life. […] Persons who are visited by the Angel quiver with a thrill unknown to the rest of mankind. And they can not touch an instrument, or open their mouths to sing, without producing sounds that put all other human sounds to shame. Then people who do not know that the Angel has visited those persons say that they have genius” (60). Christine hung onto her father’s words, long after he passed away. Because she was so close with her father, she could never let go of his promise to her, which is seen when she later explains, “‘[my father] said, ‘When I am in Heaven, my child, I will send him to you.’ Well, Raoul, my father is in Heaven, and I have been visited by the Angel of Music.’” (67). This comes back to haunt her when she hears the ‘Angel of Music’ for the first time and forms a bond that closely resembles a father-and-daughter relationship. She begins to listen to everything the voice tells her, and is passionate towards the voice in the most innocent sense. This father-and-daughter relationship can really be observed when the “Angel of Music” says, “‘Your soul is a beautiful thing, child,’” (29). The use of this quote ultimately shows her relentless connection to her childhood memories and her need to be cared for.

Both Christine and Raoul having identity issues that causes them to hold onto their childhood memories connects the two characters, going even further than their love for each other. The love that they have with each other starts off pretty innocent, until the phantom, Erik, becomes involved and gets insanely jealous. Not only are Christine and Raoul connected through this love triangle involving Erik, but the two of them are almost parallels because they share the same vivid childhood memory of Raoul saving Christine’s scarf when they were children. Christine always held onto to that memory, explaining, “I have not forgotten the young child who fetched my scarf from the sea” (56). For such an insignificant memory from childhood, she still hung onto the very memory, ultimately proving her relentless grip on her childhood.

In the beginning of the novel, Phantom of the Opera, characters Christine and Raoul both very much resemble children. With the various and plentiful amount of quotations that use childish language, along with childish behavior exhibited from both characters, only goes to show where they were mentally. However, as the novel goes on, readers can see connections between the two characters and the bond they share. This bond fulfills its purpose in making both characters truly mature.

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