Random Phantom of the Opera Stuff
- Welcome and Introduction
- 30 Years On Broadway!
- The Left Outs
- Why Hate the 2004 Movie?
- Raoul Bashing
- Love Never Dies
- My Top 10 Phantoms
- Mikael Samuelson
- Underrated Christines
- Something About LND
- The Age Issue
- My (New) Top Ten Christines
- My Favorite 'Think Of Me's
- Carlotta Is Underrated
- Playing Double
- No One Would Listen
- LND Theory About Raoul
- OCR: London
- OCR: Canada
- Something Like Self-Advertisement
- My Favorite Title Song Duets
- Elisabeth Berg Appreciation Post
- Copenhagen Production
- OCR: Vienna
- Question of the Day: Favorite Old-School Phantoms?
- Question of the Day: Favorite 21st Century Phantoms?
- Alfred Pfeifer Appreciation Post
- OCR: Stockholm
- The Great Debate: The 2004 Film
- Movie Recommendation: The 1925 Silent Film
- Phantom of the Opera (1943) Film Review
YOU ARE READING
A book all about random things having to do what is probably the most popular musical to ever exist. DISCLAIMER: I do not own any photos or videos used in this book. All rights go to owners. For non-profit purposes only.
# christinedaae # loveneverdies # musical # musicofthenight # phantom # phantomoftheopera # random # raoul
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As with every fandom, we have a few ships. There's two big ones, and a few other ones that I'm not sure how many people actually ship them.
Here they all are, and my thoughts on them all:
Raoulstine (Christine/Raoul): This is one that I definitely ship (because come on, look how cute they are together).
Erstine (Christine/Erik): I used to kind of ship this one, but I don't really anymore. If things had been different, maybe it would have worked, but the way things were, I don't think it would have.
Megstine (Christine/Meg): I'm not too sure about this one yet, but I think they might have been cute together.
Merik (?) (Meg/Erik): This is one that I don't think would work well. Meg was always afraid of the Phantom of the Opera, and then in Love Never Dies...well, we'll get into that in another chapter.
Reg (?) (Meg/Raoul): It doesn't seem to likely, but I think it would have been kind of cute.
Rerik (Raoul/Erik): I don't know about this one. Same as with Erstine, the age difference would be kind of weird. In the book, Raoul was 21, and Erik was probably in his mid/late 40s, maybe even 50. I really just can't see this one happening.
Erik/The Persian (don't know what ship name they would have): Now, this is one I actually like. For anyone who hasn't read the book, The Persian was the only man who knew Erik's story, and he followed him to France from Persia to keep an eye on him. The Persian always did care about Erik, even he knew he wasn't a good person and Erik was actually kind of mean to him.
I think that's every ship for POTO. If you know any others, do let me know and I'll add them, and I would love to hear what you guys ship.
29 Votes in Poll
What do you think?
Proud & Prejudiced Book Thieves
"Honestly, don't you two read?"
Phantom 25 Really, Really Wants You to Ship Erik and Christine
Hermione: In getting (more) into The Phantom of the Opera recently, I’ve spent quite a bit of time watching bootlegs of the final liar. It is always interesting to see how the acting choices of the cast can influence the tone and the emotion of the scene; the way Erik responds to Christine’s kiss, for example, says a great deal about whether he’s being played as more monster or tragic Byronic hero.
[just watch this thirty-minute kiss comparison — #worthyourtime]
Phantom’s main three—Christine, Erik, and Raoul—are all characterized on a sort of binary, wherein each character has two main extremes, one of which will be chosen by the actor as the base-point for the character. This is true, to an extent, of all theatre, as most characters are built off simple tropes and then elaborated upon with wardrobe, acting, etc., but it is perhaps most striking in The Phantom of the Opera as the main three are so closely interlinked. The Phantom’s two extremes are fairly obvious: he can either be the aforementioned sexy, tragic Heathcliff-esque sad-monster-boy (a very important trope unto itself, lol) or he can be more twisted and monstrous, his mask hiding a sort of repressed child who has adult, sexual feelings but no healthy outlet. Raoul can either be a fop or the competent, over-aggressive boyfriend wHO is hERE to FIX THINGS. Christine can either be played as the living embodiment of all that is good, a symbolic Light in the Dark, or she can be given a bit more of an edge: she is naïve, but her innocence and compassion do not make her stupid—she is clever and kind enough to un-mask the Phantom while keeping her dignity and granting him humanity. (And the actresses who play Christine as a ditz have missed the point of her character completely).
The show is the most powerful when all three actors have aligned their interpretations of the characters to fit a certain overarching theme/storyline. This is why the 25th-anniversary performance works so well, because Christine, Erik and Raoul are all played to emphasize the tragic romance between Christine and the Phantom. Other renditions make it clear that Human Embodiment of Good Christine is doing the noble and right thing by kissing the sad monster scorned by society, but she would much rather be singing duets with Perfect Boyfriend Raoul. Sierra Boggess’s Christine is clearly in love with the Phantom and by the end of the musical, she does not want to leave him. It is suggested that Christine and Erik are actually the better couple, that they are far more suited for one another in terms of personality and interests, but they can’t end the musical as a romantic pairing because Erik has just killed two people and the audience will accept sympathy for the Monster Killer but probably not him getting a cottage in the Alps with his new wife.
Rather ironically, it is Hadley Fraser’s interpretation of Raoul that lends the most credibility to this interpretation; 25 th anniversary Raoul is interested in Christine as a childhood friend/lover, but he has no patience for her emotional outbursts and “overdramatic” behavior. He spends most of the play vaguely irritated with everyone’s incompetence. He isn’t really given the romantic love interest arc; he and Christine don’t get the stage time usually necessary to establish a romance. Even “All I Ask of You” reads differently, as Christine begins the song scared out her wits, looking to Raoul as someone to “guard her and guide her”—essentially, she wants someone to step in and take over the role of her lost father. Raoul offers security, a reminder of a happier, safer time from her childhood. But there is no grand sexual tension between them, none of the chemistry that’s going mad between Christine and Erik during “Music of the Night.” Hadley’s characterization makes Raoul more of a symbol of the “normal romance,” in which boy and girl dramatically reconnect and slip from childhood friends into young love. “All I Ask of You” functions similarly, as the song and its refrains are used to signal the presence of/the desire for a “healthy” romance, a relationship is based on mutual consent and honest (rather than exploitative) vulnerability. It is sung by Erik at key moments when he is trying to connect with Christine in a traditionally romantic way, rather than with the obsession and artistic symbolism suggested by “Music of the Night.” I think it’s important to recognize that there is more to these two songs than “Music of the Night” being Erik’s and “All I Ask of You” being Raoul’s and Christine’s, as the use of each song throughout the play provides valuable insight into where each character stands emotionally.
Anyway, over to you, Clara.
Clara: One of the more awkward catchphrases for Phantom is “You always remember your first time.” I do remember my “first time” with Phantom, but ironically, the memory is completely opposite to the feelings I have for it now. My first exposure to Phantom was the 2004 film which I watched for the first time in the sixth grade. It terrified me. I distinctly remember lying on my air mattress (we had just moved to a new house) with a sore throat, wanting a drink of water but too terrified to get up and get one. In my mind, I saw the Phantom waiting just outside the door with a noose, ready to kill me.
I wouldn’t watch the movie again until seventh grade, and while I still didn’t like it, I was able to look past the bad casting and screenplay and listen to the music. Even twisted by the other awful elements of the infamous 2004 version, the score was beautiful. I looked up the original London cast and decided the musical was actually amazing, but I didn’t really “fall in love” with Phantom until I discovered Gina Beck’s Christine and finally, Phantom 25. I’m not a fan of the original cast, and while I’ve liked specific actors and actresses, (Gina Beck and Hugh Panaro most notably), I never found a performance with the “golden trio,” the perfect Phantom, Christine, and Raoul. And then, I found Phantom 25. Hearing it for the first time was an absolute revelation; I listened straight through the soundtrack, cried on the floor for a while, and then listened to it again. Finally, I’d found a cast that personified everything I loved about Phantom; Raoul was a man, not a wuss (and on top of that he was a flawed man, not the perfect prince charming everyone wants him to be), and Christine and Erik had urethral, angelic voices. The thing that gets me the most about Phantom 25 is really the vocal performances of the actors, as Christine and Erik are supposed to have astounding, otherworldly voices, and Ramin and Sierra are the only pairing who have ever had that effect on me.
The second element that makes Phantom 25 my favorite is what Hermione was talking about above; the actor’s interpretations of the characters. The entire performance sets up Christine and Erik as endgame, and Ramin and Sierra handle it beautifully.
Christine touches Erik and his hands tremble with excitement and uncertainty, she rejects him for Raoul and yes, he is vengeful, but he is also hurt, cut to the bone by what for him is the ultimate betrayal. The final lair is not a battle between the prince and the villain for the princess’s hand, but rather an incredibly emotional conflict between Erik’s better half (his love for Christine) and his dark persona. All of Ramin’s interactions with Sierra are steeped in emotion; he is shaken to the core when she expresses hate towards him (“the tears I might have shed at your dark fate/ grow cold and turn to tears of hate”), and her desperate pleas for her freedom in the finale are made out of love. It’s written all over Sierra Boggess’s face: Please let us go, please do the right thing, please realize what you have done to me is wrong because in order to make sense of my love for you and receive something in return, I need the man and not the monster.
And of course, I would be remiss not to mention their version of “Christine, I love you.” They are meeting for the first time on equal terms: he isn’t groveling at her feet for her love, she isn’t kneeling before him begging for mercy. Ramin’s phantom is uncertain and hopeful (“Has she come back? Will she stay with me?”) and Sierra’s Christine is saying she loves him even as she lets him go. It’s impossible to watch this and NOT ship Erik and Christine; her reprise of “All I Ask of you” is obviously for Erik and in the end, she is two seconds away from turning around and launching herself into his arms.
Even though I ship Erik and Christine, I can’t stand people demonizing Raoul. As I’ve pointed out before in several somewhat intense Reddit battles, Raoul is a difficult character for the phandom to swallow. The people that gravitate towards Phantom are usually outsiders, so they identify the most with Erik. Raoul represents society; he’s a classic personification of the popular jock coming to steal the girl from the nerdy outcast. This means that whoever plays Raoul has to make him likable, and Hadley Fraser accomplished that in the simplest way possible: he made Raoul human. The Disney Prince version of Raoul is easy to hate, but as a flawed and somewhat aggressive snob, he’s far easier to like, and his relationship with Christine is more realistic and shippable because it’s not perfect. Phantom 25 is the only performance where I’ve ever rooted for Raoul and felt he deserved Christine at the end. Even though I still wanted her with Erik, her leaving with Raoul didn’t irritate me as much as it usually does.
In my humble opinion, the hardest Phantom role to play to perfection is Christine. The male roles, though tropes as well, have a fairly simple choice to make: the Phantom can be crazy or troubled, Raoul can be foppish or brave. The only way the actors can really go wrong is if they refuse to commit to one or the other. Some of the worst Phantom performances I’ve watched are the ones where the actors are flitting in between the two parts; Raoul can’t really be brave and weak; Erik can’t be evil and still loveable. This might be possible in a different medium, but complexity of this level just isn’t possible in a Broadway production.
Christine is the musical’s embodiment of innocence and good. She is both Erik’s and Raoul’s angel, but a person can’t be literal perfection, so just like with the boys, a choice that needs to be made about how Christine is played. Most actresses try to make Christine practically perfect and they play the role self-righteously as if they are just so perfect that they deserve all the love, all the praise, etc. I can’t get behind these actresses because they act like such snobs, and let’s be honest, if you don’t care about Christine, you don’t care about what happens to her. Of course, there is a way to play Christine as the flawless Disney Princess: Gina Beck did it after all, so what did she do differently than everyone else? The only way to manage this is to play Christine as unaware of her own perfection; in other words, she has to be humble. I don’t get why most Christine’s have such a hard time with this. My guess would be that the actresses themselves are prideful, and that taints the character, but who really knows?
The only problem I have with Disney Princess Christine is that it puts more distance between her and the Phantom. Because she is so good, it’s harder for the audience to swallow that a murderer could earn her love. Gina’s “love” for her phantom is more of a fountain of compassion, she kisses Erik in the finale not because she’s desperately trying to convince him to let her go (Sarah Brightman) or because she loves him and she wants him to know that (Sierra Boggess) but because as she herself is completely good, she cannot conceive the concept of evil in anyone else. The kiss is one of compassion; she is sharing her goodness with someone who needs it more than her. I adore how before she kisses Erik the second time, Gina pulls back and looks him full in the face, showing that she accepts him for what he is. After Gina’s Christine has fulfilled, fixed, and forgiven the monster, it’s time for her to leave with the prince. This Christine would have worked well with a less villainous Erik, (perhaps Cherik from the 1990’s film?) but she and the Phantom can’t be endgame in this version of the musical. She fits naturally with Raoul.
Sierra and Hadley still have undeniable chemistry, but their relationship is built on shaky foundations; Christine is frightened by the Phantom, and Raoul, her childhood sweetheart, conveniently comes along to protect her from the darkness. Raoul doesn’t really know Christine, so it’s uncertain how long they could last once Christine no longer needed a protector. Could Raoul really accept the inner darkness that Erik was able to receive so easily? He’s not a musician, so how can he ever hope to understand Christine’s connection with her “angel”? Sierra’s Christine is not perfect, a rather large part of her character is ensconced in uncertainty and darkness, so Ramin’s Erik understands her in a way that Hadley’s Raoul never could.
A final thought before I turn things back over Hermione: It’s easy for us as phans to be exasperated by Christine’s fear of Erik, but we know the entire story. Christine has no way of knowing that her stalker and kidnapper is actually in love with her. She doesn’t know about his past, so she has no idea that his creepy behavior is simply him trying to express something he has never received before in an unhealthy way. I find myself frustrated with Christine for hurting Erik by being afraid of him, but really, to find her terror, I have to look no further than my twelve-year-old self.
I have to end with expressing my undying love and gratitude to Ramin and Sierra. In a way, they are my angels of music; they have totally inspired my voice and they brought Phantom into my life in a whole new way. I am forever grateful.
Some of Clara’s favorite musical moments in Phantom 25:
- “Perhaps we may even frighten away the ghost of so many years ago with a little illumination . Gentlemen!” *Phantom overture plays aggressively*
- Christine’s high notes at the end of “The Phantom of the Opera”
- “The Music of the Night”: “Silently the senses abandon their defenses”
- All of Ramin’s high notes
- All of “Twisted Every Way”
- The “All I Ask of You Reprise” (it’s the exact same musical line that Erik sings at the end of the first half of the play and the very end, “It’s over now the music of the night!” #parallels)
- Masquerade: “You will understand in time…”
- The musical break in “Masquerade” when the brass section plays the melody of “Christine, I love you…” The entire musical break in between the key change is beautifully orchestrated. Just… *mwha*
- “Stranger Than You Dreamt It”
- “Wandering Child”: “Have you forgotten your angel?” [Hermione: so!!! sexy!!!]
- “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”
- Erik’s “Masquerade” reprise at the end of the finale
- “Christine, I love you.” (Erik’s obviously)
Hermione: Well, um, I don’t have any grand sort of personal story to share about how Phantom changed my life, because it really hasn’t. But I will say that I could never understand why people would ship Christine and Erik until I watched Phantom 25—and ergo, this post. We’ve so far discussed the characterization necessary to present the ship as a legitimate romance, but I want to briefly mention the blocking and stage design for Phantom 25. First, as I’m sure anyone with working vision noticed, Sierra’s Christine and Ramin’s Erik are touching each other all the time. (If you don’t believe me, watch some bootlegs on YouTube and you’ll see the difference). This is especially obvious in the final liar, as the space between the two characters is drastically reduced compared to traditional stagings on Broadway/West End. They’ve gotten rid of Erik’s creepy throne chair, for one thing, so at no point is he removed from the central drama while Christine runs to Raoul. The staging demands Ramin’s Erik be far more vulnerable; this may be “his” final lair, but he is not given the emotional high-ground.
And then, of course, there are all the little things Ramin adds in to exemplify this: his look of shock after he realizes that he’s hurt Christine by chocking her (well, duh, you idiot); the way he covers his ears and cries during “All I Ask of You,” because he does not want to hear Christine give to Raoul what she will never give to him—though she does, as Clara mentioned, by turning back and singing her first lines of “All I Ask of You” to him rather than to Raoul. This ties directly back into the earlier discussion of the thematic differentiation between “All I Ask of You” and “Music of the Night”; Christine may have kissed Erik to a refrain of “Music of the Night” (yes? Am I right about this, Clara?) but she confesses her love with the song that embodies hopeful, mutual romance and the possibility of peace.
Clara: Actually, it’s the melody of “Angel of Music,” but close enough.
Hermione: One thing more that I would like to briefly discuss: the semantics of a redemption arc for Erik. Erik has murdered two people in the play (and though I haven’t read the book, I’m presuming he’s knocked off a few more in earlier periods) and he’s put Christine through some serious psychological trauma. By all traditional standards, if he is to be granted a “happy ending,” he must first be redeemed—and in a storytelling sense, this means he must “pay for his crimes.” The suffering aspect of redemption is really more for the audience’s sake than for anything else; redemption is, on a Christian level, an instantaneous second chance requiring no penance or personal effort. Most readers/viewers, however, aren’t nearly so gracious, and thus characters that wish to be redeemed have to “earn” it; essentially, they must suffer until the audience’s dislike turns to apathy, then to grudging sympathy, and then to respect and compassion. If done right, the audience’s evolving view of the character will mirror both how that character sees himself and how the surrounding characters view him (most characters will follow the audience, but there will be a few characters specifically designed to continually believe in/guide the character in question, acting as mentors, potential romantic interests, or optimistic friends).
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Zuko is a prime example of a redemption arc perfectly executed. But characters like Zuko—and other characters that would be redeemed (Ben Solo, for example, though his arc was seriously botched)—usually begin in a place of relative privilege and comfort. Yes, Zuko had half his face burned off by his abusive father and has mommy issues. Yes, Ben was emotionally neglected by his parents and uncle and then further abused by Snoke. But each has a birthright, a guarantee of societal dominance if they accept the easier road. Zuko might have been the prince of the Fire Nation and conquered the rest of the world; Ben, having rejected his first birthright, is made the prince of the dark side, the galaxy at his fingertips. So later, when these characters show remorse or humanity, the narrative forces them to physically reckon with their crimes; they must intentionally step away from their power and privilege and suffer until they earn the audience’s respect. (Like I said, you never really see this with Ben, because his arc was terribly written—but all the groundwork for this sort of turn was set up in TLJ).
Erik, on the other hand, has essentially suffered since birth. He has pulled himself up to a place of some “privilege”—he is getting paid 20,000 francs a month for sitting in an opera basement—but this was all managed on his own ingenuity and not on the basis of an inherited birthright. His “privilege,” too, is rather weak and easily deconstructed; he must rely on the goodwill of Madame Giry to not grow paranoid and call the police, he must hope that his smoke and mirror tricks are enough to keep the Opera managers and staff afraid and submissive. But, really, one angry mob and he’s done.
In this sense, the possibility of a redemption arc for Erik is harder to articulate. Yes, he does need to be redeemed—from an audience standpoint—if he is ever to get his happy ending with Christine. But literary redemption is “earned” through suffering—and Erik has already suffered. He has suffered enough that the audience can feel sympathy for him, even when he is still playing the “villain”; in a sense, this is the arc of the entire play, as the Phantom’s mask is stripped away and the audience must deal with the awkward truth that he is also a man, a victim; that narratives require nuance and that perhaps the real monster is society, as we first make Frankenstein and then condemn him.
Yet this sort of literal unmasking is not a redemption arc, nor really a character arc. Erik only begins an active character arc when he makes the decision to let Christine go (and even that was entirely predicated off Christine’s decision to show him compassion and love). Is this one good decision on Erik’s part enough to redeem him for his earlier actions? And yet, realistically, how much more could he be made to suffer before the audience would relent to him and Christine marrying and moving to that cottage in the Alps? Should he have the other side of his face burned off? Lose a hand?
I suppose the degree to which Erik deserves redemption—and the degree to which the audience is willing to give it to him—again depends on how the Phantom is played. I imagine most people would be willing to grant Ramin Karimloo’s Phantom a Happily Ever After; Hugh Panaro’s Phantom, probably not. And this, perhaps, is why Phantom 25 succeeds so well: it pulls no punches in fighting for audience’s sympathy for its monster, realizing that the more open and vulnerable the Phantom is made, the more audience members might see themselves in him, thus allowing for true pathos and grace.
Clara: Forgive us for this incredibly long post, but as Phantom is trending right now, perhaps some of you more intellectual types will make it to the end. What is your favorite Phantom cast? Do you have (as Hermione put it) a “deeply personal story” about how Phantom changed your life? Leave a comment! We love the attention.
comment please, that’s all we ask of you
~Hermione and Clara
Share this:, 9 thoughts on “ phantom 25 really, really wants you to ship erik and christine ”.
I recently found your blog, and I must say the way you’ve introduced yourselves in your about page was so entertaining, I couldn’t help but immediately really like your blog! I’m also a very proud Slytherin (and I consider it an achievement that my Chinese Zodiac sign is a snake. This was a very random fact).
Looking forward to reading more from you guys!
Like Liked by 1 person
Hey Arshia, thanks so much for checking out our blog! We appreciate the positive feedback, and if you like entertaining sass, there’s a lot more where that came from! I’m sure Hermione will be pleased to know that she is not the only proud Slytherin in the world, (and I’m sure that your zodiac sign is a snake because you’re destined to rule all the Slytherins). Have phantastic day! ~Clara
Great summary of Phantom in many forms. I love Phantom 25 more than any other production. I’ve see it in Toronto which was still pretty great and the movie was flawed to almost unwatchable. Sierra, Hadley and Ramin were excellent and I think because they are all good friends helped with the chemistry.
Thank you! You’re lucky to have seen the stage production, I’m not exaggerating when I say Hermione and I would sell our kidneys for that chance. I agree that Sierra and Ramin’s friendship is one of the things that elevates Phantom 25, they have such great chemistry! Thanks for reading, Clara
I loved this article. I too have been a “phan” of POTO since I was little and even though I always wished that Erik could have had Christine in the end, I was never able to fully decipher if Christine truly loved him in a romantic way or was just showing him compassion. The 2004 movie version for example, made it clear to me that Christine only had eyes for Raoul. Then this pandemic started and I happened upon Phantom 25. Throughout the show, I had this sense that finally this was the version of Erik and Christine I always imagined. Sierra and Ramin made these characters come alive through their angelic voices and undeniable chemistry. By the end I was a sobbing mess and it was clear to me that Christine did truly love Erik. Even though she leaves with Raoul at the end of the play, I believe Sierra’s Christine will always return to Erik. (With or without a moonless sky 😏)
Thanks so much for reading, it’s always great to find someone else who understands phantom feels like we do! Sierra and Ramin’s chemistry is ABSOLUTELY the reason phantom 25 was so great. And I especially can identify with being a sobbing mess at the end. -Clara
Oh no, nooo, did WordPress just delete my comment? 😭 It redirected me to log in…
Yes, I think it did? So sorry!! WordPress is a mess sometimes. -_- At any rate, thanks so much for reading!
Oh my god … I am so happy I came across this article! Late, of course, but still! I have so many, but so sick of hearing that Christine disliked the ghost romantically, even in the 25th birthday! Already, I think it is good to say that there is a romantic and or sexual subtext between Christine and the ghost since the BEGINNINGS of the musical (due to the self-insertion of Andrew lloyd Webber), and the final decides the outcome of the relationship. In general, I have more the impression in these versions that Christine, by the way it was played, was obviously attracted to the ghost but that now it’s broken, even if she can’t help but always have compassion for him. Ramin and Sierra decided to play this relationship as a romance to the end, and it’s SO obvious! Christine’s feelings in the finale are revealed as romantic, it’s impossible to doubt it, especially due to her cover of “All I Ask of you”. And I really hate that people knowingly omit that part of the end of the musical. At the same time, if they didn’t, it would shatter their vision of a Christine who was just compassionate towards the ghost and who only loved Raoul … I don’t understand. Why does it seem so unlikely to many people that Christine will have feelings of genuine love for Erik? They often refer to the book, but the book is not the musical. The musical is an adaptation, another take on history. Or they use the times when she is scared and angry to justify themselves. And ? She can feel it all and still loved it. The complexity they know? Many say that in musical comedy, Christine considered the ghost as a father figure. If that’s just that, well she’s got a funny way of looking at it. 😂 I don’t want to know how she looked at her real daddy then!
More seriously, for me it is obvious that in the musical, in addition to his feeling of respect and admiration (because he is his teacher), of fascination (because of the mysterious figure of an angel of music) and of fear (when she realizes he’s a murderer) for the phantom, Christine also felt love for him.
After all the time they spent together as a teacher and a student, she came to see him as a friend, because he gave her a voice, helped her develop his talent. So of course, she loved him platonically in the first place. But once she meets him, it can be clearly seen that Christine finds herself attracted to him. Having met him in the flesh has changed his feelings, until then platonic.
She understands that in addition to being her angel of music (she believes), he is also the phantom of opera. But when she takes off her mask, her illusion of an angel sent by her father is shattered. She realizes that he is just a man in a mask and begins to feel sorry for him. Then comes the fear when she finds out that he has murdered a man.
Christine’s feelings for the phantom are very complex and conflicting. She loves him in many ways. The part: Whay have you brought me here .. / Raoul i’ve been there, Phantom of the Opera 25 Anniversary, expresses this complexity very well in my opinion. To sum up their story to a simple substitute for fatherly love is reductive. And downright freaking out by the way …
There is a double reading in every lyric of every song, that’s why this show is so great.
The song “Wandering Child” for example, is a scene where the phantom takes advantage of Christine’s emotional distress to make her believe that he is the spirit of her deceased father. His angel of music. Except that at this point in the story, Christine already knows that all of this is wrong. At the start of the song, Christine says herself: “Angel or father, friend or phantom. Who is it there, staring?” She does not know who is watching her, she suspects the true identity of that voice, but she WANTS to believe that it is her father. She wants, but somewhere, deep inside, Christine knows she has to. She knows who is really singing. Otherwise why the lyrics: “Wildly my mind beats against you (You resist) Yet your / the soul obeys.” If she is 100% convinced that her dead father is FINALLY coming to talk to her, why resist? Yes, she hinted that it was time to finally say goodbye to her father in the previous song. But in all honesty, if you were Christine, wanted to turn the page but you PERSUADED (or you really are, forget the phantom) that your deceased father’s spirit was coming to you, you would want to resist. at a last moment to spend together? I do not believe. And seeing how Christine lets herself be hypnotized by the lies of the phantom in this scene, neither does she! So, once again, why talk about resisting? Because she knows deep down that it’s not her father, but the phantom that sings. She’s not a fool. This replica shows his connection with / his attraction to the phantom and how Christine struggles to detach from it. At least for me.
Getting back to Christine’s romantic feelings for the ghost, again, I think that’s pretty obvious given how the finale is masterfully played out. This moment when she starts to sing “all i ask of you” on the stairs with a sad air, slowly turning her head towards the ghost, but not completely either, before Raoul returns to answer the words of the song. and brings her back to him. She’s singing for PHANTOM at the moment. It seems obvious, because Christine does not see Raoul and neither do we. It’s not in the camera frame, nor even in the field of view of Christine, whose head (and the camera more directly) slowly turns towards the ghost. Personally, I’m still crying at this time, in addition to Erik’s “I Love You”.
Be careful, I’m not saying that Christine didn’t like Raoul. (I like how Hadley played it) She obviously loves him. Of a sincere and pure love. A childhood love. And even if he is less interesting as a character than Erik, Raoul remains a better choice of life and love for Christine. He also seems to always bring her back to reality when she wanders on the phantom. Safe.
I think the Phantom represents the dark side of Christine, a form of passion as well as her dreams. But it remains dangerous in view of how broken and unstable Erik is.
However, Christine loves the phantom, like an angel, a teacher, a friend, (maybe even a father to a lesser extent, since he was his singing tutor) but also a lover. And this, even though she pities him and is afraid of him. Again, she loves him in so many ways. This is what makes the relationship beautiful and complex.
It is the tragic fresco of a Gothic love story to Beauty and the Beast.
In any case, that’s what was delivered in the 25th anniversary, and as shipper of Erik and Christine it’s a pleasure to see. How lucky were we that this version was entitled to a DVD!
It was a great article to read anyway! ❤
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Erik/Christine (commonly abbreviated as E/C) is a popular het pairing of Erik and Christine in Phantom of the Opera fandom .
The relationship is central to the plots of most adoptions and variations of The Phantom of the Opera .
Erik usually starts giving Christine singing lessons without showing her his face (in the original story she at first believes that he is an angel of music that was sent by her father) and falls in love with her to the point of obsession. The details of different adaptations vary, but many of them follow the book's storyline (Erik kidnapping Christine twice and letting her go back, Erik forcing opera managers to give Christine major roles in operas, Erik trying to blackmail Christine into marrying him by threatening Raoul's life)
Differences in Various Adaptations
- In the original book, after Christine kisses Erik, he gives up on his plan to blow up the Opera building if she doesn't marry him and lets her and Raoul go, giving her his gold ring and asking her to bury him with it, which she does after seeing in a newspaper an obituary that says "Erik is dead" .
- In Love Never Dies , a sequel to Phantom of the Opera written by the creator of the original musical Andrew Lloyd Webber , it is revealed that Christine had a night of sex with Erik ten years ago and that her son Gustave is Erik's. 
- At the end of Kay's book Phantom Christine also gives birth to Erik's son named Charles.
Erik/Christine is the most popular pairing in the Phantom of the Opera fandom and the focus of the majority of fanfiction. Stories about this couple have been written since the beginning of the Phantom of the Opera fandom in the 1980s, but after the 2004 movie adaptation where Erik was played by the young and attractive Gerard Butler this ship has gained even more fans.
Because of Erik's personality, his actions in canon and the character of their relationship many fans consider Erik/Christine a rather dark ship. Their canon relationship have elements of teacher/student , kidnapping , and almost forced marriage . This couple also contains a very large age difference (Erik is of similar age as Christine's father.) All of this has led to a lot of fannish discussions about whether shipping Erik/Christine condones abuse and enforces sexist tropes. The earlier fandom was prone to idealizing Erik and excusing his actions; disliking Christine also was common even among Erik/Christine shippers. With time the fandom's view of the characters and their relationship has become more nuanced, and now many fanfic writers try to make their relationship more balanced and equal, often through a lot of character development that eventually makes dynamics between them very different from their canonical relationship.
There are also discussions about whether Erik/Christine is canon for this or that particular adaptation which sometimes veer into tinhatting territory. The most famous example of E/C tinhatting is probably the "hidden plot" interpretation of the 2004 movie:
Basically, they think that when you watch the 2004 movie, the story that you’re seeing isn’t the *real* story. They think that ALW (or Joel Schumacher, or the freemasons) actually wrote another, deeper, *secret* story, and planted clues throughout the movie, so that only the most observant viewers would be able to uncover the truth. The Hidden Plot forum threads, then, are a compilation of these ‘clues’, painstakingly catalogued and described by the sleuthers. From a lens flare to a subtitle typo to the colour of a button, everything has significance. All together, they lead to a story in which Erik was the lost de Chagny brother—the true comte, to Raoul’s vicomte—possessed by an evil spirit which transformed him into The Phantom. With the help of Christine, and the Priest of Light Raoul, he is eventually freed, leaving the two of them reign forever as King and Queen Music.  .
Common Tropes in Fanworks
Unrequited Love - Obviously a very popular trope in Erik/Christine fanfiction. May stay unrequited or be unrequited only at some point of the story.
Futurefic - Erik and Christine get together after the canon events. Either Christine returns to Erik's house under the Opera for some reason (in Leroux fics she often does so to bury Erik as she promised) and finds him there, or their life paths cross again later in their lives.
- Unsung by wheel_of_fish A fic that got very popular in the fandom of the late 2010s, features Christine becoming mute post-canon
Forced Marriage - Mainly in Canon AUs where Erik succeeds in forcing Christine to marry him. Some examples of this trope are darkfics, but others are closer to more straightforward romances. Some AU fics also feature Arranged Marriage .
Kidfic - Erik and Christine's children, often "inheriting" musical genius from their father, appear quite often in fanworks about this couple. Usually in such fics they have children after getting together, but Christine having Erik's child while in relationship with Raoul is also common. A common twist is that an older child of Christine and Raoul turns out to be secretly Erik's.
- Progeny by Becky L. Meadows.
Modern AU - In stories set in the modern era, Erik may or may not be the villain.
- Deceptive Cadence by daae (Fanfic)
- ► Phantom + Christine by #dragonbabymama# (Fanvid)
Historical AU set in a period that is neither modern not canon era .
- A Solo For The Living by Tango1, a rare example of not quite "historical AU", but rather "more historically accurate AU", which postulates that the 2004 movie was indeed set in the 1870 and shows the canonical characters experiencing the historical events that happened in France in that time
- Tightrope by Chapucera, set in Spain of the late 1930s and early 1940s
Other kinds of AUs and fusions that are often retellings of the canon.
- Phantom's Beauty , a fusion with Beauty and the Beast by Lady Rosesong , a popular author from the 2000s
- Shadow Government by Quiet2885, a Futuristic AU
Reincarnation - Erik and Christine are reborn as other people, meet again and fall in love again. They may or may not remember their past lives.
- Phantasy by Becky L. Meadows.
Hookerfic - Christine is a prostitute, and Erik is her customer.
- Regret Like Tears by FieryPen37
- Don Juan Conquered by aquandrian (a rare variation of the trope in which Erik is a prostitute)
Slavefic - Erik never left Persia, remains Sultana's executioner and receives Christine as a gift. This trope may be partially inspired by the scene in Susan Kay's novel Phantom in which Erik is given a slave woman as a mocking gift from the Khanum.
Darkfic (sometimes called "morbid") - Such stories often feature a darker interpretation of Erik and sometimes of Christine as well. They are more likely than other kinds of E/C fics to portray Erik's love as unrequited or/and show their relationship as abusive.
- The consequences by The Scorpion
- Bodies on the Shore by Elcie
Other tropes and themes specific for this pairing:
- Erik becomes a more moral and mature person under Christine's influence
- Erik is interpreted as representative of more non-conformist and exciting life choices, most often of Christine's creative or sexual side
- Christine is made more bold and assertive than in canon (one of the ways to address "problematic" aspects of the ship and make their dynamic more balanced)
- Christine casually and willingly visits Erik's underground house many times (usually found on the fluffier side of E/C)
- Christine is similar to Erik's mother or Erik is similar to Christine's father (this trope also appears in some non-fannish adaptations of the story)
- Love Never Dies fics are either fix-its where Christine doesn't die at the end or smut describing the night "beneath a moonless sky" when Gustave was conceived.
- To Touch Me and To Trust Me by Phantomfluffandstuff .
- A Gypsy Caravan by silver_galaxy
- Fraternité by Gondolier, considered by many fans as one of the best phics in the fandom
Erik/Christine is one of the most popular subjects for the Phantom of the Opera fanart. Most of available fanart from the zines portrays them together or separately.
Fanzine E/C art often showed scenes from the musical. This one is from the cover of The Chandelier #5, artist Sybille Schenk
Another scene from the musical on the cover of The Chandelier #23, artist Marion Kadalla
From the front cover of Mask: Tales from the Underground #2, artist Janet Meeham
Cover art for the Millennium Edition of POTO: The Phantom of the Opera Magazine , artist Bradley J. Parrish.
More modern examples of E/C fanart:
- Pity by Muirin007
- O.G. and the Soprano by Muirin007
- Your Soul to Mine by Muirin007
- Herzdieb by xXVenomsGloryXx . It's a Vid made with a song in German.
- Happy together by teamezria53098
- My baby shot me down by teamezria53098
Archives, Communities & Resources
- Christine Daaé/Erik works at AO3
- Erik and Christine: The Fluff Archive at Ff.net
- STRANGE DUET
- The Red Rose
- Phantom's Beauty
- Roses for Her :: A Tribute to Erik x Christine (Phantom of the Opera) at ship_manifesto
- Phantom of the Opera Wiki
- Characters/The Phantom of the Opera at TVTropes
- ^ Love Never Dies (musical) at Wikipedia .
- ^ From the summary of the "hidden plot" premise on rjdaae's tumblr
- Phantom of the Opera
- Het Pairings
Phantom of the Opera and the Problem of “Shipping”
The Phantom of the Opera, a quintessential Gothic melodrama, tells the story of a deformed genius, rejected and hated throughout his life, who secretly tutors a gifted singer mourning the death of her father, convincing her he is the ghost of her dead father, becoming obsessed with her in the process. Complications ensue when her childhood sweetheart returns to her the night of her triumphant debut and the romance is rekindled. Maddened by jealousy, the Phantom unleashes a reign of terror upon the Opera house, before kidnapping the object of his obsession. Only the compassion of Christine prevents him from killing her fiance, letting the two of them go, and thus dying alone.
It’s clear from a bare summary that the dramatic turning point of the story is the final ultimatum and how the two characters respond to it. Christine gives up her own happiness to save her beloved, going beyond what is required of her to offer herself as his “living bride”; the Phantom responds to her offer by releasing her and Raoul, shamed by her kindness. Both responses are unexpected, and thus yield unexpected result, bringing the story to completion with far greater emotional satisfaction than most narratives can boast, outside of fairy tales.
Still, the enduring popularity of The Phantom of the Opera , in the original novel and its multitudinous adaptations, remains something of an enigma. As both Sean Fitzpatrick (of Crisis magazine) and Lindsay Ellis (of YouTube fame) have pointed out, in contrast to similar stories such as Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame , the actual source material–Gaston Leroux’s 1911 novel–is more pulp fiction than great literature in its own right. Despite that, the musical genius obsessing over the beautiful young opera prodigy is an image still potent more than a hundred years since its publication, none more iconic than the white half mask of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s protagonist in his 1986 blockbuster musical. Channeling swooning romance novels as well as traditional gothic suspense, the tragic unrequited romance of the Phantom and Christine still elicits sighs and tears from its rabid fan base. But is this the reaction it should seek to inspire?
That is, most fans of the musical admit to “shipping” Christine and the Phantom together, due in no small part to the seductiveness exuded by the character himself through his big solos, and the sympathy lavished upon him by the surrounding narrative. But should they?
To explain: since the internet facilitated the widespread proliferation of “fandoms,” a curious phenomenon has emerged within these varied and sundry “fandoms,” oft-critiqued but popular nonetheless. Known as “shipping” (a contraction of “relationship’), it involves the desire for two characters within a work of fiction to come together romantically who (usually) don’t “canonically.” Often, this desire is expressed and expounded upon without regard to the actual events of the work or authorial intent, requiring either the vilification the hero or whitewashing the villain to make said fan’s desired pairing seem at all rational.
Most “phans” prefer the pairing of Christine with the charismatic antagonist, Erik (the Phantom), rather than her real beau, the rather less interesting Raoul de Chagny. Though consequences of revising the bittersweet ending to pair these two together can be seen with stark clarity in Lloyd Webber’s much reviled sequel, Love Never Dies, a more cogent critique can be made by leaving that dubious piece of musical theatre behind and instead exploring the relationships and story arcs of the “canonical” material.
The Phantom’s story works, despite what the musical might have us think, is due to one simple fact: Christine doesn’t love the Phantom. Throughout both the novel and the musical, she sees the Phantom as a guardian spirit, her “Angel of Music”, more akin to a mentor and father figure than a romantic interest. Her romantic feelings are only awakened by the return of her childhood sweetheart, Raoul, and the ensuing conflict stems from their inability to reciprocate their affections due to the Phantom’s influence. Whether Raoul is an appealing or interesting character is beside the point–she loves him, and not Erik. Despite his obsession with her, he’s a father figure at best, an abusive psychological tormentor at worst. Christine admires the man for his musical genius, pities the tragedy that forced him to such violent desperation, but fears the lengths he’ll undergo to win her.
While she does appear somewhat open to his seductions in “Music of the Night”, there’s never a doubt she’ll choose Raoul over him. Her attraction to him is not romantic or sexual, but rather admiration of his musical ability, and pity for the disfigurement that ruined his life and distorted his character. Erik, again, is a mentor, a father figure (albeit in a twisted sort of way, using her love for her father to manipulate her), Raoul her childhood sweetheart, a man her own age who proves he loves and cares for her on multiple occasions, not the least in risking death to free her from the Phantom’s clutches. Considering Erik has lied to her, impersonated her father in order to seduce her, murdered innocent people and kidnapped her twice, it’s no real surprise that in the end she refuses to succumb to him, instead stepping out from his shadow and regaining her own agency.
Perhaps, some in favor of this “ship” might concur, but what about the Phantom himself? Does he not demonstrate a deep and passionate love for Christine, a willingness to do anything to win his lady love? While this reading appeals to our post-Romantic sensibilities, with stories of the brooding loner who moves the heavens and earth to obtain the love of his lady, it fails when we consider what Erik lacks: love.
In both the novel and the musical, though all his thoughts and actions revolve around securing the affections of this unwitting opera singer, in truth Erik is never “in love” with Christine. At best we can say he’s “in lust” with her. Though emotion and passion form an integral part of love, love, to adopt definition derived from St. Thomas Aquinas and Bishop Robert Barron , is “willing the good of the other and doing something about it.” It’s intrinsically selfless and outwardly directed, rooted in the objective worth and dignity of the other person. Lust, on the other hand, seeks to posses the other for what pleasure the other can give to you. You cease to consider the other as a person, with objective worth dignity, and instead regard him (or her) as an object to posses in order to increase your own pleasure. While, in the novel at least, Erik seems curiously unconcerned with sex, his desires regarding Christine fall far more in line with lust than anything resembling authentic love.
Erik, as opposed to Raoul, never considers Christine’s happiness, what she might think or want. When he brings her to his lair, he tells her “since the moment I first heard you sing/I have needed you with me/To serve me, to sing for me” [emphasis mine]. He repeatedly contends “you alone can make my song take flight” [emphasis mine]. From the beginning, the relationship is all about him, what gratification she and her incomparable voice can give him. He wants to live a normal life: no one would marry him as is; thus, he lies to a young girl and, when she falls in love with someone else, he uses terror and murder to keep her in line. Even the pro bono musical training is more for himself than her, indulging his own ego in making this girl a star, worming his way into her affections in order to convince her to marry him later. The Phantom consistently uses her as an object for increasing his own pleasure and happiness, with no regard for her well-being, and doesn’t even recognize what he’s doing until he sees Christine do the opposite: relinquishing her own desires for the good of someone else. Only then can the Phantom undergo his redemption, which can only be effected by letting her go.
What inspires the sometimes misguided fan favoritism, however, outside of his sexualized charisma in the stage show, is not his disturbed and possessive behavior towards Christine, but rather his tragic character arc. Despite the “pulpy” surroundings, Phantom has endured thanks to the masterful portrayal of a tragic villain ultimately redeemed that Leroux places at the center of his novel. Return to the sacrifice she makes for the sake of her fiance and the hapless opera patrons: she never had to do what she does, but she did so others might live. The choice is entirely her own. Her selflessness allows Erik to see how selfish and abusive he really is, placing his desire to get what he wants through whatever means necessary in stark contrast with her willingness to throw away everything she wanted for the sake of others. Shamed by this revelation, he acquires something of the selflessness Christine has shown to him, and thus releases her from his control that she might pursue her own happiness, though it (literally) kills him. Erik begins his story emotionally stunted and selfishly immature, and ends knowing what real love is, first by receiving it, and then by giving it. Only by letting her go to marry the man she loves can he learn this fundamental lesson and, ironically, show her love.
The redemption arc of the Phantom and the growth of Christine as a person are, in truth, two narrative puzzle pieces that fit together. Christine cannot emerge from his shadow unless she willingly sacrifices her happiness for the sake of Raoul, and the Phantom cannot gain his redemption without first witnessing the calm sacrifice of the object of his obsession. Without the one, Christine lives in fear of this madman the rest of her life; without the other, the Phantom is not shown the base selfishness of his actions, thus inspiring him through he ensuing shame to let them go and relinquish his futile goal. Thus, in order for the story to “work” and come to an emotionally satisfying conclusion, they must go their separate ways.
That’s what makes the story so powerful, and, paradoxically, a great love story. He doesn’t “get the girl” as a conventional ending demands, but he ends up exemplifying what real love consists of–namely, a gift of self. He sacrifices everything he most wanted for the sake of the girl he strove so ardently to possess, and, in doing so, proved he now knew the essence of real love. Either way you slice it, the Phantom can have no character development or gain our final sympathy if he ends up with Christine. There is no way he can achieve his growth and come to emotional maturity if he gets what he tried to obtain through running roughshod over what the object of his affection actually wants. The entire idea of the relationship is impossible.
“Shipping” obliterates these character arcs. The whole point of the story is negated by trying to smoosh them together. That, indeed, is the tragedy of the Phantom of the Opera. He craves real, authentic love, without any idea of what it is or how to give it. Instead, he kidnaps and manipulates this young opera singer, thinking to find his happiness in romantic love, only to see, through her remarkable example, that the authentic love he sought requires him to give up she he most desired. Such a revelation is heartbreaking in the profoundest sense, and, while we wish he wouldn’t have to undergo such pain, real love necessitates sacrifice, which necessitates pain and heartbreak. The conclusion of the tale, while tragic, works due to its emotional honesty. Authentic love requires vulnerability, sacrifice: the conclusion of Phantom of the Opera doesn’t adhere to a standard Hollywood happy ending, but doing so would cheapen the sobering power of the Phantom’s story. Nothing could be simultaneously more heartbreaking, or more beautiful, than the resolution we’re given.
What do you think? Leave a comment .
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It was more of a creeper/lover/father relationship than a I-love-you-more-than-your-voice type of thing like she had with Raoul who didn’t only love her for her voice.
Raoul seemed to love her only because she had become famous. In both book and movie there’s not much evidence to support that Raoul really loved her in any huge way.
I wouldn’t really put it that way…I don’t think he would have noticed her if she hadn’t been singing, but I do think he loved her, or at least, he loved being her hero. I don’t think he knew her well enough after years of separation to really love her.
Poor Erik. he had never know love of any kind. No mother love and no father at all. He had no idea what love was, but always knew he wanted it fiercely. When Christine came along he was ripe for it. Had any other girl been in the same position (his student) I think the result would have been the same.
That said, I have always been a believer that his experience with Christine awakened his need to be loved. But she was not the right one. Immature and naive, she would have had trouble accepting him. After all, she said he “has to kill 1000 men.”
It would take a woman of maturity and compassion to accept him, not only his disfigurement, but also his past. Christine was a child still. Maybe had she not been so young, or had something, time perhaps, intervened, and they met later, she might have had the maturity by then to accept him.
Your so right about Christine, Ying. Maybe things would have turned out differently if she was more mature,but I guess thats not how the author intended it to be:
One thing to support this idea: there are other fish in the sea.
Has anybody wonder about what’ll happen if Christine chose neither? I think it’ll be quite interesting to see how she would fare alone, without the both of them. As much as I love the song Devil Take the Hindmost, I really felt like Erik and Raoul were thinking of her as a prize, not a person.
I love this. It would be interesting to see how the “neither Erik nor Raoul” option would have played out…
A third option in the love triangle solution that is, regrettably, rarely explored. I think we just love “love” too much, even when it’s not right to a story or characters.
Passions running high, intensely emotional music and a poignant ending. A classic.
Christine loved Erik because he was her teacher, because he inspired her voice and because he loved her unconditionally. But she did not love him enough to want to stay, she stayed because she pitied him, because she knew of the pain he felt and so she stayed, until Raoul returned to her: then she wanted to leave him, but she was scared to because she knew how obsessively he cared for her and she knew that he would find her. She feared him because – lets face it, he was psycho. Because he had odd mood swings and she was not entirely sure of what he was capable of. She didnt want to stay with him because he was a psycho obsessive – what we call a stalker. I think that Erik was in love with Christine not in lust because if it had been pure lust he would not have treated her with the respect that he did. He let her go in the end not because he couldnt give her what Raoul could but because he knew she would never love him the way she did Raoul and so he knew she would be happier with him – he sacrificed his chance of happiness for hers. That’s love not lust. Lust is selfish, love is selfless.
Poor, unhappy Erik, his entire life was just a tragic, and lonely story…
I love reading about Erik. He is so twisted and a wonderful topic of discussion. Going to share this with my reading club!
It seems to me that Erik was only interested in controlling Christine’s love as opposed to actually loving her, so I can’t blame her for trying to get away from him. And while I think she ought to show more understanding to him once in a while, it’s hard to show it. He can’t help what he became, but his actions towards her were, let’s face it, abusive. It’s the only treatment he’d ever known, so why wouldn’t he treat someone else the same way?
He just wanted to be loved, but the world had turned him into something terrible! Dear Lord, it’s tragic no matter how you look at it!
Much as I would love it for the E/C relationship to work, it’s just not possible. Outside of fiction, that is.
I think Erik deserves someone better. 🙂
As much as I love Erik for all his faults he also had a heart..setting Christine free..you know the saying.”if you set something free and it comes back its yours..if not it never was..my heart breaks for him..but it never would have worked. Its why I like the sequels..so he finds his own happiness.
I don’t think Erik truly loves Christine until the end of the orignal novel, when he lets her go with Raoul. It is at this point he has matured as a character to see that love is not about ownership or controlling the other person’s every move. It is not about threats and intimidation.
As for Christine, she doesn’t have the emotional maturity to love the Phantom or really understand him. Her emotions are clouded by memories of her father.
While I love Erik I dont think he would have been the best choice..but I dont think Raoul was either.
In Phantom’s defense, he loved Christine before she was famous. Raoul only bothered to look in direction when she was such a success in on stage. And then Raoul just wanted to play hero and save Christine from someone Raoul couldn’t understand.
He had been alone so long, and was so scarred on the inside as well as the outside, that he had become obsessed with her. We all know that sometimes a woman, the “right” woman, can heal any wounds.
I love Erik, adore him, my heart breaks for him… but I’m not sure they could have had a healthy relationship.
This is a fascinating topic where people have conflicting opinions.
Christine, I find, was torn between what her heart yearned for and what she thought she needed. Her heart yearned to be met in music and it was Erik’s call that completed that. Erik had the same passion and emotional depth, whereas Raoul was a bit wooden in his character. He seemed to show only what he thought appropriate. Christine seemed like she was caught between what society expected of her and what she truly wanted. In the end, I think that she convinced herself that Raoul was the one for her, only because it seemed the easiest path to take. Sure, with Erik, they would have had more than their share of hardships, but there was an unyielding spark between them that would have fully ignited, had Raoul not got in the way. Christine made her choice and, honestly, I would have regretted it, if I were her. The Phantom has a certain allure to him that, obviously, Christine found seductive or else, she would not have come so easily under his spell. Spells break and so did Erik’s heart. Christine based her decision on her mind and not her heart and it makes me think that Christine did not deserve him.
I wonder if Christine had chosen Erik over Raoul, how would Love Never Dies be acted out and performed.
Erik’s past hurts/emotional baggage + Christine’s immaturity/emotional baggage = catastrophe.
My heart tells me that Christine had to love him so strongly that I am in the process of writing and publishing a phanfiction. I am going to reference this article in my work. Thank you for sharing.
Personally, I always thought Christine was a little two-timer who, instead of doing the right thing of just breaking the news of not really in love, decides to pull Erik along like a cat with a piece of yarn and talk horribly behind his back. Sure, telling someone like Erik that she’s not interested wouldn’t be a wise idea, but all she had to do was not return to his house on the lake. Erik specifically told her not to return unless she loved him, all like the Persian’s idea. What does she do? Come back.
I don’t think Erik loved Christine in a “Oh you’re my soul mate” kind of way, but more of an “I make sculptures of you on my spare time completely made of toothpicks” kind of way. Since he got to talk to Christine, as the Angel of Music, I think it gave him a taste of what it was like to have a woman admire him rather than be repulsed by his apperance (since even his own mother hated him) and it lead him on an obsession of wanting Christine. Yes, he was very kind to Christine during her stay at his house on the lake, but it’s more of an issue of people being repulsed by him, the desire to be loved by someone, and the yerning to live a normal life that caused his obsession rather than being that “special someone” or, as the movies LOVE to portray, lust.
Raoul, even though I really didn’t care for him, is probably the only decent one out of the love triangle. True, he’s thinking with his balls most of the time, but it’s the action you’d expect from his loved one telling him about this horrible person who won’t let them be together.
Very well thought out and put Allie. Never stop writing articles here.
If Erik had loved her, he WOULD NOT have kidnapped her, tried to kill her lover, and hypnotised and manipulated her.
Okay, I love that “Christine’s choice” ending scene. She can’t let Raoul die, but Raoul doesn’t want her stuck in Erik’s basement forever. The answer is to do the impossible: love the Phantom. Just a little bit, enough to kiss him. It’s not that Erik deserves her love, but he needs it (as a tragic character, he needs love more than most). Christine has enough love in her heart to love the Phantom; that’s what makes her a heroine. So Erik doesn’t just learn to give real, mature, selfless love. He also gets it. It’s weird, because he always wanted it, but according to his plan it didn’t really matter if Christine loved him as long as she was his. When he got it in the end, he didn’t know what to do with it, so he had to let both Christine and Raoul go. It’s not that shipping automatically destroys those character arcs. It’s just that shipping in the phanfiction sense cheapens one of the most powerful kisses in all of fiction.
I think Raoul’s love for Christine was a brotherly sort but Erik’s was much, much different and kinda hard to understand.
I think he really did love Christine, but having gone unloved all his life he really didn’t know how to express it in a healthy way. And since he considered her the one good thing that had ever happened to him, he would have been very obsessive and territorial over her. He didn’t learn the true meaning of love until that moment in the lair when he chose to give her up.
As much as it hurts to think of it, it still makes me proud to see how he’d grown from thinking of himself to doing what was best for her.
I wholeheartedly agree with everything here – I’m a long-time fan and this article sums up my feelings about POTO perfectly.
I’ll have to disagree about what people are saying in the comments about Raoul, though. I don’t think his love for Christine was shallow at all. One of the problems lies in the fact that Raoul doesn’t get much stage-time, but he’s known Christine ever since she was a child, when she was nothing else but the daughter of a poor violinist. Later on, he’s willing to do anything to protect Christine, even if it means dying at the hands of the Phantom, paralleling Christine’s own sense of sacrifice.
I can see him having a bit of a hero complex, but ultimately, it’s Christine who saves his life, by being willing to blow her own away. And that’s basically his character journey, for me.
I agree he can get a bit Prince Charming-ish, but I’ve come to a point where I find it endearing. I see him as a bit of a goofy human golden retriever puppy kind of character, nowadays.
I think what Erik felt for Christine is hard to explain: he did love her, but he never really understood that true love was to let go, and he only understands that at the story’s climax. As for Christine, I believe she did love Erik, but because she was that kind and compassionate, and not in a romantic way. And in the end, he felt loved, and he died happy because someone was kind enough to give him that scrap of love he never received. And that’s what makes his story tragic and fulfilling all at once.
I LOVE phantom of the opera. I think this article is really well written. I enjoyed reading your perspective on Christine and Phantom vs. Christine and Raoul.
Totally I totally agree with this analysis. Before watching the musical, I was under the impression that the main romance was between Christine and the Phantom. Then, as I watched the story unfold, I became more and more disturbed with that concept. Kind of like how Loki from the MCU is adored despite the fact that “he killed 80 people in 2 days”. I’m glad to see such a thoughtful and thorough breakdown of why there isn’t and shouldn’t be a romantic relationship between these two leads.
Thanks for the thought-provoking article. I’m a romantic, but I usually don’t “ship,” unless the “ship” is canon or has significant potential to become so. As you noted, “shipping” outside canon obliterates character arcs. Even though the characters aren’t real, I’d also argue it takes away their agency. That is, the writers have the right to do with their characters as they choose. The fans don’t. Fans are the audience, meant to glean entertainment from a work. We can analyze and theorize about what the author didn’t say all we want; that’s why analysis exists. But there is a point at which analysis goes too far. Shipping often reaches that point because we project either our own desires or our own context onto the character. (For example, some fans of historical pieces ship characters who, in their time, would never have come together because their relationships wouldn’t have been sanctioned. Tolerance for those relationships wouldn’t have existed, and as unfair as that is, there’s a real argument for respecting the canon in those cases).
“There is no way he can achieve his growth and come to emotional maturity if he gets what he tried to obtain through running roughshod over what the object of his affection actually wants. The entire idea of the relationship is impossible.”
I agree very much. Very good article. This quote I pulled in particular makes me wonder about other attractive, rogue male characters who never got refused.
You make a really great point about people’s choice to ship certain characters. I feel that fans often wouldn’t even like a character had they not rejected another and remained desirable, which makes the fan’s want to see the characters together moot… But that’s the point, I guess. Not having to think about it rationally is part of the appeal, ha ha.
I agree. The heartbreaking ending of The Phantom is what elevates the story from a mere love story to a tale where the Phantom’s true mask is peeled away, and his heart is opened and bared to the world. It will always be my favorite musical.
Very captivating photographs. A well-written and highly engaging rendition of the heart-wrenching tale. The ideas and the phrasing make this story ever more provocative.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. What we were giving was the only resolution that would have suited the story thematically. This is why Love Never Dies is a travesty. It completely undermines the characterization and the central message of the first story. There is no reason that I can’t think of that Christine would choose the phantom as a romantic partner. He is selfish, controlling, abusive. He retains all of these qualities in the sequel and he is rewarded with financial success,triumph over his rival (genuinely decent character who has been turned into a belligerent drunk),and the love of the woman he terrorized in the first show and continues to bully in the second. Not to mention, a new son that he has a rightful claim to, despite the fact, there is NOTHING to suggest that he would be a good parent. Christine’s compassion for the phantom has been replaced with mere lust for the phantom’s music and his charisma. It’s a disaster. I will admit that the music is good, but it isn’t enough to veil the issues with this sequel.
I am a fan of the Phantom, i think the music in movie is fascinated!
I agree with your article even though, yes, I do think Christine should have chosen Erik. I just had this conversation (one sided really as the person didn’t try and refute my points at all, but I digress) about why I do prefer Erik to Raoul.
Erik’s own mother shunned him, he was treated like shit by her, he was captured in a side show to be a freak, made to work for the Shah of Persia and torture people, and then, once he does find someone he feels at the very least a strong desire with, she rejects him? I would snap too honestly, after all that. He didn’t have a “regular” upbringing and he had only one chance for love and so he grabbed on and wouldn’t let go.
I am not condoning his actions; any sane Erik/Christine shipper won’t but we also know how his life was and why he did what he did. Raoul could have literally *any* woman, yet he wanted his childhood friend who he hadn’t seen for years. He wasn’t there for Christine after her father died; Erik was. Erik needed Christine more than Raoul did.
A very interesting you point here about the nature of “shipping”, fanfiction, and tragic stories. Fanfiction, by nature, fills in the holes of stories, changes them, and tends to make the original story more fulfilling for the fanfiction writer and for their audience. In writing about tragedy, however, these changes are difficult to do without sacrificing the core of the original story. Perhaps in a tragedy of misunderstanding, such revisions would be easier to do, but in a complex story like this, a writer would have a lot of work make their “ship” work out.
In order for Phantom to be rewritten in fanfiction while still remaining true to its core, the story would have to go back – back to the causes of the troubles, and rewrite those, in addition to the ending. This is a story without a clean ending, and so any fanfiction would have to work to delve into both the truth of the story and characters and remain true to the shipping. It would be interesting to see, however, what would happen if this could be rewritten right!
Have I told you how much I love this article yet? You do a fantastic job of cutting through the “Erik Vs Raoul” romance war and saying “hey—there’s a story being told here about what love is. Let’s not be torn between two guys—let’s think about what they represent.” When we do that, it’s easy to see the beginning, middle, and end all structure around this theme of love Vs lust. It was interesting when you pointed out the language of the Phantom’s supposed “love” songs show selfishness and obsession. Is it passionate? Yes. Is it love?….No. And so to focus on shipping aspect is to be so swept up by passion that we ignore that theme and the fact that, as you say, the phantom’s act of mercy is the first demonstration of true love that he has made.
That tragic character growth most certainly makes for a fitting end therefore. Letting Raoul and her free was an act of love at the cost of his own happiness— so to say that he should have been with Christine is to entirely miss the point. That is IF he would even have been happy had she stayed with him. At this point she would have been his prisoner and it is difficult to imagine them being happy together given the circumstances. That was a fantasy in his own head.
I also like how you touch briefly on Love Never Dies. I had thought that maybe I just opposed it because I didn’t want there to be a sequel to such a classic, but you nailed it. Once again it is about the STORY of the Phantom of the Opera. The end makes for a neat conclusion, with the phantom’s epiphany and the theme of love being emotionally driven home. That’s taken away by opening the story back up with a continuation that seems like Erik took up writing self-indulgent fanfiction after things didn’t work out at the opera house. -Constellation
This was a great article. I’m glad you established a basis of what “love” means in this context (it’s an often muddied part of discussions like these).
I haven’t seen or read any renditions of this work myself, but as someone who’s been witness to “ships” in other fandoms, I’m curious on how the Erik-Christine shippers transform the two characters in their fandom contributions (fiction, art, etc.). As you touched upon, it’s very rare for a character to be used in a ship and not have fundamental characteristics embellished, warped, or completely changed outright to become a more classically romantic character. The unfortunate part of this (I feel) is that it can often reduce the more distinct/unique character into a generic-feeling protagonist with their former identity acting more as their skin than as their soul.
I can already imagine a more handsome, less-scarred, and less-creepy Erik, and a more childish and asinine (or completely disregarded) Raoul. Does the fandom often create new works for Erik-Christine to star in? If so, to what extent do they change the characters?
Tired, condescending and pedantic argument. Please, lecture people more about how they should and should not enjoy fiction. We all want to be sure we’re doing it correctly! After all, if we like daydreaming about one outcome, it means the original source material will burst into flame and burn to ash, eradicating all that went before! Nobody will EVER be able to see “Phantom of the Opera,” any version, without a zillion daydreamed endings tacked on all in a row!
Are you getting how ludicrous this is now?
Also– if there were no reason to imagine how the Phantom’s love for Christine *might* have worked and given him happiness, then his sacrifice would not be as moving and compelling as it is. There has to be at least the illusion of hope. Without it, Erik is purely delusional and pathetic, and his sacrifice would be no more than his being forced to face what was always inevitable. Are the fans who see that illusion and love it misunderstanding the text? I’d argue they understand it better than you do.
Learn something about the core constructs of fiction before you lecture people again. And by all means, tell all of your future readers that they’re enjoying your work wrong. I think it will go VERY WELL for you.
(For the record, I’m not a shipper here. I don’t even like the Phantom of the Opera. But even less do I like flimsy superiority complexes paraded around by people who fail to fully engage with the story they claim to be expert on.)
I agree with the overall argument here, but if we are talking about the Lloyd Webber version of the story, then I’ve got to disagree with you on a couple of points. For one, there is no doubt in my mind that Christine was supposed to be attracted to the Phantom at some point during the musical, chiefly during the title song and Music of the Night sequences. In fact, I’d attribute her sexual awakening to the Phantom rather than Raoul in this version and some of the folks involved in the 2004 film adaptation have even corroborated as much, explaining that the changes in Emmy Rossum’s makeup that take place as the title track scene progresses, were intended to make her look less and less virginal as she loses her innocence. Also note how the final cadenza of the song builds pseudo-orgasmically. I also strongly disagree with your argument that Erik never truly loved Christine. I’ll grant that for the vast majority of the show’s runtime, he merely exhibits his selfish, obsessive desire to possess her by any means necessary, rather than any sort of authentic love. Ultimately, though, he unselfishly releases her, demonstrating that he cares enough about her to put her needs before his, even though letting her go will probably be the most painful experience of his life. I can’t think of a much more valid and authentic display of true love than that. I think it’s also noteworthy that Lloyd Webber doesn’t have Erik say he loves Christine until after he makes this redemptive sacrifice, as if he hadn’t earned the right until that moment.
Thanks for tearing up a fandom in one foul stroke. Good job. We do know this shit, we just choose to let our fantasies unwind rather than repress others.
Going to be very blunt about this, but * get off the moral high horse.
I read the original Leroux novel, unabridged. In there, both Phantom and Christine’s feelings for each other are…complicated. Especially on Christine’s end, there’s definitely sexual attraction. The first unmasking scene in the original text has Christine and the Phantom sing parts out of Othello, and Christine is fascinated and drawn in by the danger in his voice, and she only removes the mask because she wants to see what the man she’s attracted to looks like. The ensuing Don Juan scene also has her being attracted to, if not aroused by, the way he has elevated his entire miserable life into something beautiful and cathartic via the music. The Phantom’s preoccupation with death is also much more emphasized in the Leroux text. During the unmasking, he talks about expanding his coffin to fit two, and during the final ultimatum, he begins by laughing like a demon, and ends exhausted and resolved to die. He’s an incarnation of the 19th century fascination with death. And, even in the abridged translations, it’s clear how Christine and the Phantom inspire and shape each other’s art. Through their love for music, and through the supernatural qualities the Phantom takes up, first as a ghost, then an angel, then a living corpse that drags Christine below the bowels of the earth, the two of them end up connected on a spiritual level, while her love for Raoul is more earthly and, in many ways, more childish.
Another aspect that Leroux seems to continuously emphasize is that all three members of the love triangle are children, and all of them need to learn how to love and grow beyond childish infatuation. The Phantom is often called “childish” and Raoul and Christine are described as children. By the end, Raoul has learned to let Christine make her own decisions, the Phantom has learned to put others’ happiness before his own, and Christine has had some sort of sexual/romantic awakening. However, I feel Raoul is less developed than the other two. Much of the book he runs around not knowing what’s really going on, and passively reacts to the decisions that Christine or the Phantom makes. His most distinct trait is that he wants to protect Christine, but even that fails as Christine is the one who has to protect him. He’s like a reward set up for Christine after she finishes dealing with the Phantom’s destructive love. Phantom lets go of Christine by the end and sacrifices himself for love, but who’s to say Christine isn’t also letting the Phantom go? She has to relinquish the dark fantasy to go back into reality with Raoul, and in doing so, both their special statuses–his noble titles, her career as a singer–are obliterated, and they become humdrum everyday rural folk.
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