Sunday, June 04, 2006

I used to wake up at this hour. Now it's the hour in which I fall asleep.

Finished The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux a few days ago. Been unable to pick up another book after that. The words just keep running through my mind, especially the words spoken by Erik near the end of the story in Chapter XXVI, 'The End of the Ghost's Love Story':

Erik here rose solemnly. Then he continued, but, as he spoke, he was overcome by all his former emotion and began to tremble like a leaf:

"Yes, she was waiting for me...waiting for me erect and alive, a real, living bride...as she hoped to be saved....And, when I...came forward, more timid than...a little child, she did not run away...no, no...she stayed...she waited for me....I even believe...daroga...that she put out her forehead...a little...oh, not much...just a little... like a living bride....And...and...I...kissed her!... I!...I!...I!...And she did not die!...Oh, how good it is, daroga, to kiss somebody on the forehead!...You can't tell!... But I! I!...My mother, daroga, my poor, unhappy mother would never ...let me kiss her....She used to run away...and throw me my mask! ...Nor any other woman...ever, ever!...Ah, you can understand, my happiness was so great, I cried. And I fell at her feet, crying ...and I kissedher feet...her little feet...crying. You're crying, too, daroga...and she cried also...the angel cried!..." Erik sobbed aloud and the Persian himself could not retain his tears in the presence of that masked man, who, with his shoulders shaking and his hands clutched at his chest, was moaning with pain and love by turns.

"Yes, daroga...I felt her tears flow on my forehead...on mine, mine!...They were soft...they were sweet!...They trickled under my mask...they mingled with my tears in my eyes...yes ...they flowed between my lips....Listen, daroga, listen to what I did....I tore off my mask so as not to lose one of her tears...and she did not run away!...And she did not die!... She remained alive, weeping over me, with me. We cried together! I have tasted all the happiness the world can offer!"

And Erik fell into a chair, choking for breath:

"Ah, I am not going to die yet...presently I shall...but let me cry!...Listen, daroga...listen to this....While I was at her feet...I heard her say, `Poor, unhappy Erik!' ... AND SHE TOOK MY HAND!...I had become no more, you know, than a poor dog ready to die for her....I mean it, daroga!... I held in my hand a ring, a plain gold ring which I had given her ...which she had lost...and which I had found again... a wedding-ring, you know....I slipped it into her little hand and said, `There!...Take it!...Take it for you...and him! ...It shall be my wedding-present a present from your poor, unhappy Erik.....I know you love the boy...don't cry any more! ...She asked me, in a very soft voice, what I meant.... Then I made her understand that, where she was concerned, I was only a poor dog, ready to die for her...but that she could marry the young man when she pleased, because she had cried with me and mingled her tears with mine!..."

If you don't understand the dialogue pasted, just go read the book! :P

I was rather disappointed with the book in the beginning. Characters like Raoul de Chagny and Christine Daae were pretty one dimensional. Their love and the blossoming of it were written as well as a cheesy teen flick, with over-excessively melodramatic lines and actions fluttered all over the pages. The French... haha. But I suppose their love story wasn't the main focal point as it was in the musical where pretty boys and girls fall head over heels in love with each other and can sing wonderfully! In fact I think perhaps Leroux deliberately chose such a simplistic unsophisticated design of writing about it in order to mock their childish love affair and enhance our sympathy towards Erik. It was Erik's ingenuity and his love towards Christine that mattered in the book. Chapters were dedicated just to describe his background, his intelligence and to uncover the cleverness of his tricks. Everybody else seemed to be fools and he the master of all plots and schemes. Yet ironically, in the end, the greatest fool of all, was him. "...where she was concerned, I was only a poor dog, ready to die for her..." Love makes everyone a willing fool. Poor poor unhappy Erik. :( As he fell in love with Christine, we readers were bound to fall in love with him.

I am disturbed by the underlining meaning of the story that physical attraction is necessary for love to take place, that physical beauty or at least normality is essential in order to gain affections and acceptance. If Erik was not disfigured, would Christine have loved him? If Erik was not disfigured, would Christine have ceased to abhor him and be frightened of him? She was so mesmerized by his voice, by his talents, even before she met him. Would she have given him a chance? I remember somewhere in the book he said to her, "As long as you thought me handsome, I would have let you leave me, and you would have come back to me freely" or something like that. What do you think? But of course, as the Great Sylvia once said, "But we're not Christine. We're not in her shoes what."

Anyway, as cliche as some parts were, the book is definitely worth a read. The building up of tension, all that mystery, and the climax, and of course Erik, took my breath away and leaves an indelible impression. :)

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

teehee. :P
hmmm but Christine loved Raoul first. She didn't exactly "know" who the Phantom was at first. And when she met him, even with his mask, she didn't really fall in love with him right...?

wahhh yes i forgot the Persian existed!!