*This post will be full of unpopular opinions and spoilers for THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.*
Guten Tag, Leute! I’m not ashamed to admit that I really, really love Raoul de Chagny from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. It’s an unpopular opinion but really, I do believe that Raoul is one of the only characters in PHANTOM who has actual morals and that he is a good character who has been much-maligned by fans and writers alike.
Raoul de Chagny is, in my opinion, the protagonist of Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera which has been the source material for the silent movie, the musical, and etc. Yes, that’s right. I see Raoul as the protagonist, not Christine. In the novel, Christine Daaé acts much more as a catalyst than a protagonist, in my opinion. Of course, this is a fairly unpopular opinion but you’ve got to hear me out. In the original novel, Christine really doesn’t do much and isn’t necessarily a likeable character. Also, in the novel, most of the characters are very different from how they are in the musical. I’m basing this assumption off of one person but, I think that even Eristine (Erik x Christine) shippers will agree that, in the novel, the Phantom is not an easy guy to side with. One of my best friends who is a hardcore Eristine shipper really couldn’t like the Phantom when she read the novel. However, in the musical, it’s pretty clear that Christine is meant to be the protagonist. And that is actually something that I rather like. In the musical it is so much easier to like her. My point here? That Raoul is meant to be a good, likeable guy. And he is. But something about the way that musical is written makes the Phantom a more… appealing option to a lot of fans. Why?
That’s easy. It’s because the musical romanticized the Phantom’s character. In the original book and in the silent movie, the Phantom is very clearly a bad guy. He’s not meant to be liked. He’s selfish, cruel, and terrorizes people to get what he wants. Essentially he acts like a toddler. And, the musical keeps some of that to a certain extent. It’s hard to explain but, believe me, if you compare the musical to the book or the silent movie, you will see how much more romanticized the Phantom is in the musical. In the musical he’s painted as a mysterious, tortured soul–kind of like a Mr. Rochester type–but in the silent movie and in the novel he is a full-fledged villain. In fact, silent movie fans out there will know that the Phantom actually kicked off what is known as the “Universal Monsters” Franchise all the way back in 1925 and is considered to be among some of the greatest monsters of all time including Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and others.
Now, I don’t know if the Phantom was purposely made out to be a (twistedly) romantic-type figure in the musical but he certainly turned out that way. And really, I believe that the song “Music of the Night” really has something to do with the large fan-base the Phantom has following him. In that song, he’s shown to be a mysterious, hurt, broken figure who can be fixed by love. Christine’s in a trance-like state and seems almost enamored or intrigued by the Phantom. And I truly believe that this is where most Eristine shippers fall for the pairing.
And yes, while “Music of the Night” is a beautiful, entrancing song, part of me is always ever so creeped out by it. And, funnily enough, “Music of the Night” was originally meant to be a creepy–not romantic–song. And, for this piece of evidence, we’ll turn to the Sydmonton version of “Music of the Night”:
Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation,
Darkness multiplies imagination.
Slowly all the senses, abandon their defenses,
Helpless to resist the notes I write,
For I compose the music of the night.
Close your eyes, for your eyes will only tell the truth,
And the truth isn’t what you want to see.
In the dark it is easy to pretend,
That the truth is what it ought to be.
Take your time, break in, filling us completely.
First love, slaughter, adverse words of greeting.
As the night is nearing, the touch, the taste and hearing,
Gradually replace redundant sight,
Preparing for the music of the night.
Close your eyes, let the touch of it, abuse the soul;
Let its timbre crescendo in the flame.
Can you tell, is it pleasure? Is it pain?
From now on, you’ll never be the same.
Go now, gently; my music, though you fear it,
Let me show you, only stay and hear it.
Measure after measure, an instrument of pleasure.
A treasure-house, of passion and delight.
Come join me in the music of the night.
All alone my soul can not be right,
Help me make the music of the night.
I don’t know about you, but these lyrics make me shudder from the utter creepiness of it all. While I am glad that they changed the lyrics to be a little less creepy, I do believe that this change in lyrics was crucial to the development of how fans see the characters, especially Raoul and the Phantom.
But, my original purpose of writing this post was to try and make people see that Raoul doesn’t deserve all of the hate that he gets, not to talk about how much I dislike the Phantom. So… let’s get a little more on track here, shall we?
In a nutshell, Raoul’s a really good guy in PHANTOM. Really, I can’t see why anyone would hate him. But, somehow, hordes of fans hate him and love the Phantom. I get it: the Phantom’s probably more interesting than Raoul but he’s also a murderer, a kidnapper, and also a sort of terrorizer of the opera house. Above all, though, Christine does not love him. That’s something that, for whatever reason, a lot of people don’t see. Sure, Christine’s intrigued by him. But that is not love. She even says that she hates him in the finale.
The tears I might have shed for your dark fate grow cold and turn to tears of hate!
But, all the same, people don’t seem to be able to see that Christine doesn’t love the Phantom and that she loves Raoul.
Not, even, it would seem Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Yes, yes. I’m going to talk about the mess that is LOVE NEVER DIES now. Personally, I don’t even know if this sloppy mess of a sequel counts as a piece of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA canon. But, since the material is there and I can talk about Raoul, I’m going to use it. There will be spoilers for LND going forward if you haven’t seen it and want to.
So, you know there’s something wrong when even Raoul haters think that Raoul’s been treated unfairly. What did they do to Raoul in LND? They made him a drunkard and a gambling addict. Yeah.
Raoul’s not the only character who’s not himself at all. But… really. Why? Why on earth would Raoul become a drunkard?
As much as I hate LND, I think I have an answer for you all. And, like I said before, although I hate this musical, since the material’s there and solidifies my argument, I’m going to use it.
In the song “Beneath a Moonless Sky”, we find out that Christine was unfaithful to Raoul on the night before their wedding. Some people might say that she sought out the Phantom because Raoul had turned to drink already but, if that were the case, why on earth would she marry Raoul anyways? Yes, not only did Christine cheat on Raoul, she went ahead and married him anways when the honest, right thing to do would have been to tell Raoul and call off the wedding. In marrying Raoul, she essentially ruined Raoul’s life. From scenes in LND, we knoe that neither Raoul nor Christine is exactly happy in their marriage. Fans will generally attribute this unhappiness to Raoul and his drinking problem but, like I said, I think that the issue runs deeper than that.
Why do I think Raoul turned to drink in LOVE NEVER DIES? I think that Raoul knew that Christine cheated on him but didn’t want to believe it. In his denial, I think that he turned to drink in order to make him forget and to try to escape the ruin that was now his life. Why would Raoul marry Christine if he knew? For one thing, he probably didn’t want to believe it. He probably thought that they could work it out. After all, if Christine was marrying him, he probably thought that Christine realized that what she did was wrong and that she must still love him after all. Then, there’s the fact that Raoul is easily the sweetest musical theatre character I have ever, ever come across. I doubt that he’d want to hurt Christine even if she had brought it upon himself.
The sad thing is that Raoul lost so much. If my theory is right, if Christine had just been upfront and honest with Raoul, he probably could have fallen in love with someone else and created a new, better life for himself. Beyond just losing a life he could have had where he might have been happy, Raoul lost a brother too. In the original novel, Raoul’s brother, Philipe was murdered by the Phantom due to the fact that Raoul was in love with Christine. I guess that my point is that Raoul shouldn’t get all this hate. After all, he’s a good guy and he’s been through so much tragedy.
What are your thoughts on Raoul? Vielen Dank und tschüss!