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The Phantom of the Opera: Summary, Characters & Analysis

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  • 0:03 Overview & Characters
  • 1:25 Plot Summary
  • 3:44 Form and Genre
  • 4:27 Important Themes
  • 5:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Audrey Farley

Audrey is a doctoral student in English at University of Maryland.

This lesson offers a plot summary and analysis of the characters, themes, and form in Gaston Leroux's 1911 novel, The Phantom of the Opera. The narrative engages young readers today, since it can be compared to modern love/horror stories like 'Twilight.'

Overview and Characters

The Phantom of the Opera is a novel by French author Gaston Leroux. It was published in 1911 and has since been adapted into many other forms.

Erik is the title character in the 'Phantom of the Opera.' He was born deformed, and his parents rejected him because of his hideous appearance. He was eventually taken in by a band of gypsies, who used his 'freakishness' to promote their popular horror shows. He now haunts an opera house in Paris.

Christine Daaé is a young Swedish soprano singer. 'The Phantom' falls in love with her. Christine's elderly guardian is Madame Valérius. Raoul is Christine's childhood friend and current romantic interest. His older brother is Phillippe.

Armand Moncharmin and Firmin Richard are the managers of the opera house. The previous managers were Debienne and Poligny. Their secretary is Remy. Meg Giry is a ballet girl. Her mother is Madame Giry, who is a box keeper. Joseph Buquet is the primary scene-shifter.

La Carlotta is the lead soprano at the Opera House. She is a typical prima donna. Mercier is the manager of scenery at the opera house. Gabriel is chorus master. He is very superstitious.

Mifroid is the commissary of police. He becomes involved when Christine disappears. He is aided by the Inspector.

Plot Summary

When the old managers of the opera house retire, singer Christine rejoices. Her childhood friend, Raoul, sees her perform, and his love for her is renewed. There are rumors about a phantom living in the opera house who sends threatening letters to the managers. Faust, starring prima donna Carlotta, is performed at the opera house and this upsets the Phantom. During one of the shows, the prima donna loses her voice, and a grand chandelier crashes on top of audience members.

The masked Phantom then kidnaps Christine and retreats to his abode in the cellars of the opera house. He reveals his name: Erik. He intends to detain Christine until she falls in love with him. But she derails his plans when she unmasks him by revealing his deformed and rotting face. He then decides he will imprison her forever, since she will never fall in love with him on her own accord. However, when Christine begs to be released, he complies on one condition: she must wear his ring and be loyal to him.

Christine tells Raoul about her abduction. He pledges to protect her by taking her away to a place where the Phantom will never be able to find her. Taking pity on the Phantom, Christine sings one last song for him on stage. Neither Christine nor Raoul realize that Erik has overheard their plans and he has become more enraged. The next night, he kidnaps Christine again and demands that she marry him. He threatens to blow up the opera house if she refuses. She refuses nonetheless, but then realizes that he has also kidnapped Raoul and is keeping him in a torture cell. She then agrees to wed him.

Erik tries to drown Raoul, but Christine pleads with him. She promises never to commit suicide, as she had earlier threatened. Erik complies and releases Raoul. He lifts his mask to kiss Christine, and she returns the kiss. As he has never been embraced, her gesture profoundly moves him. Even his own mother rejected him. He allows them to escape if she promises to visit him on his deathbed and return a gold ring he gave her. She agrees. When she fulfills this promise, she announces his death to the media and the local newspaper runs a headline declaring him dead.

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