POST: 'The Phantom of the Opera' - For me, control is a basic human need

What it's about.

An opera about a man who hides his physical appearance from all people around him, and even though he hides in the shadows, he still runs the show.  His only weakness is his love for Christine.

My experience.

The overwhelming excitement to finally see The Phantom of the Opera gave the show a predestined hype in my eyes, so even just entering the theater left me thinking, “I can’t believe I’m going to experience this.”

The only other encounter I’ve had with The Phantom of the Opera was the movie, which I watched when I was around eight years old - so I don’t remember much of it.  Over the years as I’ve gotten more involved in the world of theater, I really wanted to see the show on Broadway, but I told myself that I would not re-watch or read anything related to The Phantom of the Opera until I saw the show. And I finally did.

Since I didn’t remember much of the story line, I truly did not know what to expect other than a man in a mask, but what I got from the show was so much more than that.

The man behind the mask was seen as a curse on the theater - an unseen curse that the acting company was unable to get rid of. To them, he was a burden for their theater but to him, they were able to experience a life he could not. In my eyes, the Phantom’s driving force was his jealousy of other people’s ability to live life while he was hidden in the shadows.

In the era of accepting people who are different, it is easy to say that the Phantom should not care what people think about his appearance, and that it shouldn’t stop him - but realistically thinking, especially in the 1880's, what people thought about you, determined the life you would live. For the Phantom, having the world see his face is an inevitable life of rumors, hate, and harassment from the community. Maybe even being shunned. And that is a life that no person would subject themselves to.

So what the Phantom did makes sense, the only thing he had control over in the living world was his theater, so of course he would want things to go his way. It is the only thing that could be a reflection of himself without people seeing him. He finally had control - which, in my opinion, is a basic human need - so I sympathize with him. He just wanted to in some way be included with the rest of the world. The audience would then see a part of him, and he would not be alone.

Another basic human need, for me, is love...and to fall in love with beauty and talent is human, it’s normal, and that was Christine for the Phantom. She was his ideal love - through what he knew about her in the theater, which was all he really knew. And with love, comes heartbreak too, since he fell in love with his perception of Christine, and she fell in love with a man she actually knew.

The Phantom was not a curse or an evil being. He was human - with human desires and needs that have been suppressed for so long. To have to hide from the rest of the world for being different is something a lot of people today can identify with, and it is not easy in any situation.

So again, I sympathize with the Phantom, he just wanted to live outside of the shadows.

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