Raoul de Chagny | THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Analysis

I started off as a Raoul-hater. I have since completely changed my view on him and I’m not entirely sure as to how or why that happened. I just remember that one day, I suddenly liked him. In fact, I don’t even know how I was able to hate him with such a passion before. Because to me now, Raoul is impossible to hate. And yet so much of the PHANTOM fandom hates him. I think that I know why and I’m going to be delving into that today. If you haven’t seen PHANTOM, then there will be spoilers. This post will be mostly about the musical but I will also be talking about the book and maybe a little bit of spoilers from LND. Also, if you have strong feelings anti-Raoul, you probably don’t want to read this post because it will be loaded with my personal opinions which usually lean very pro-Raoul and might aggravate or even anger you. I would also like to say that everything written here is just my opinion. It’s not fact, but it is my opinion. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with it. I will respect your opinions, so please respect mine. Thank you!

Raoul might be one of the most maligned characters in any fandom ever that is a main character. Much like Marius, he is despised for one common reason: they both end up with the love of their lives. Under most circumstances, fandoms celebrate such triumphs but with these two, it ends up as ein Schlachtungfest–a slaughter fest. Is this fair? In my opinion, no. I think that it’s completely understandable if people dislike how the story of PHANTOM ends. But hating Raoul? I don’t really understand where that comes from. I don’t even know where that came from within myself back when I hated Raoul with a passion. Now I can’t get passed how sweet and lovable Raoul is. And really, it seems like one day I just woke up and realized that I didn’t hate Raoul and that I actually really like him.

Whenever I tell other PHANTOM fans (Phans) that I like Raoul and that I ship Raoulstine I get some weird look. And I’ll admit it. Raoulstine shippers are the minority among Phans. And really, I think that I know why. I think that it’s because Erik (the Phantom) is more interesting as a love interest than Raoul is. But the way I see it, Erik wouldn’t have been good for Christine and that she didn’t really love him in the first place. In my opinion (and this is just my personal opinion, please don’t crucify me guys), there isn’t a love triangle at all. There was no way that Christine was even going to contemplate choosing the Phantom because their whole relationship was built on false pretenses, lies, and deception. Of course, that is a highly unpopular opinion but I think that it’s valid. And this is me as a former Eristine shipper saying this. Now I’m not even sure why I could have even shipped Eristine in the first place.

(Funnily enough, there is a similar situation in my favorite musical, Elisabeth [though I would argue that there is actually a sort of love triangle going on here more than in PHANTOM] and I like der Tod much more than I like Franz Joseph. If you’ve seen Elisabeth or know the story, you’ll know what I mean.)

All-in-all, Raoul is a really sweet guy. A guy who doesn’t do much of anything wrong except for kind of forcing Christine into doing “Don Juan Triumphant”, the opera that the Phantom composed. Though it can be assumed that Christine did actually consent to do it of her own free will later on, after what happened at the grave yard (that’s my own personal speculation). I think that depictions on Raoul can also decide whether or not people like him. I know that a lot of people like Hadley Fraser’s Raoul because he portrays Raoul more like a man but I don’t like his Raoul very much because he seems annoyed by Christine during “Raoul, I’ve Been There” and even comes off as somewhat rude and cold to Christine in my opinion. Personally, I like Raoul when he is sweeter, kinder, and much, much softer. Maybe that’s just me?

A friend of mine is a hardcore Eristine shipper and she and I like to argue (all in good fun) about Erik and Raoul. And even she usually ends up admitting that there is a lot more evidence pro-Raoul than anti-Raoul, especially where the book by Gaston Leroux is concerned. In the book, the Phantom is much more… aggressive, domineering, creepy, and crazy than he is portrayed in the musical and does more than threaten to kill Raoul if Christine does not marry him. He in fact threatens to blow up the opera house–himself, Christine, and everyone else included–if she does not agree to his terms. In my opinion, there can be no argument pro-Phantom in the book. (If you have a good one, please comment it below! My friend would be thrilled to have something to use against me next time we debate this!)

Now, I say that I’m a Raoulstine shipper. But that really only is if I have to choose between Eristine and Raoulstine. In my opinion, Christine shouldn’t have ended up with either of them. I don’t think that she should have ended up with the Phantom because I just don’t think that that would have been healthy for her nor safe. I don’t think that she should have ended up with Raoul because (don’t kill me for this), I think that Raoul deserves someone other than Christine. I might even go so far as to say someone better than Christine but I’m pretty sure that would have people coming at me with pitchforks in the night. Don’t get me wrong: Christine’s a generally sweet girl. But what we get to see of her in PHANTOM seems to indicate that drama tends to follow Christine. And, as is indicated by the events of Love Never Dies (we’ll get to that shortly), the drama doesn’t end with PHANTOM. Also according to the events of Love Never Dies, Christine just can’t make up her mind and settle down and I don’t think that it’s fair for Raoul to have to suffer through that. Since we’ve already opened the wound that is Love Never Dies, I guess that we might as well continue down that path.

First, I would like to say that I am the sort of person who likes to rant about Love Never Dies‘s horrible plot and character development and have been known amongst my friends to tear it to shreds. If you like Love Never Dies or have already been strongly aggravated by the things that I have said, you may want to stop here. Anyways, on we go.

In Love Never Dies, Raoul is well… a drunkard. Already, it’s clear that the Raoul that I love is gone from the moment he steps onto the stage. We learn that he’s become addicted to gambling and has a drinking problem. I have my theories as to why this might have started but they are just theories and I’ll get to them very shortly. From the very moment that Raoul makes his way on stage, it’s clear as to where the plot is going from here. It’s going to be a story about the Phantom trying to get Christine back. And really, the only way for the Phantom to be the ideal choice is if Raoul becomes a drunkard that no one can really support and/or like. Except I will try to explain why Raoul might have become a drunkard. And it’s really the only excuse that makes sense to me.

In “Beneath a Moonless Sky”, we find out that Christine was unfaithful to Raoul and sought out the Phantom the night before her wedding. The Phantom leaves come morning, not wanting to be hurt by Christine yet again and what does Christine do? She goes and marries Raoul anyways. Yeah. If that isn’t messed up, I don’t know what is. So, this is my attempt at trying to make sense of Raoul’s change of character. And remember, this is just my theory. Please don’t take this as the truth or anything. If you agree, great. If you don’t, that’s fine too. But here we go: I think that Raoul must have known that Christine was unfaithful to him before the wedding and never confronted her about it or at least found out about it sometime after the wedding, never leaving Christine because he’s Raoul and he’s just too kind to abandon her. But somewhere deep inside, I think that Raoul didn’t want to believe that Christine could or would even do that to him and turned to drinking and gambling in order to try and drown those thoughts in that way.

It’s just a theory. But to me, it’s the only thing that explains this massive change in Raoul. And again, this goes back to my argument that Raoul deserved better than Christine. People always watch Love Never Dies and say “Christine should never have gone with that Raoul. She deserved so much better.” But I think that they’re looking at it in the wrong way. Raoul is the one who deserved better, in my opinion. Raoul wasn’t the one that was unfaithful. That was Christine. And of course, the argument could be made that Raoul was already heading down the path on his drinking and gambling addiction before the wedding, but if that was the case, why would Christine still marry him? To me, that doesn’t make any sense.

And, if my theory is to be believed, then the worst part is that Raoul blames himself for everything that went wrong in his relationship with Christine. And of course, he’s not completely innocent in the ordeal, but really, it’s not completely his fault like he believes it is. And, even if my theory is false and Raoul was already a drunk before the wedding, it’s still not entirely his fault that their relationship ended up so bad. In fact, I think that the blame would shift even more towards Christine for still going ahead and marrying him. My least favorite thing about Love Never Dies?

That Raoul is made out to be the villain of the story. What on earth? Maybe he’s not exactly a good guy but blaming Raoul for everything is sloppy and unfair. It doesn’t even make sense to me.

***

That was a long rant. Sorry about that guys. I just had to get all of that off of my chest. I know a lot of people hate Raoul but I just had to defend him because I feel like a lot of the hate directed at him is unfair. What are your thoughts on Raoul? What do you think of my opinions on Raoul and what do you think about my Love Never Dies theory?

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