Archetypal Characters and Symbols in The Phantom of the Opera
The story of The Phantom of the Opera appeals to many types of personalities and people of all ages because of its archetypal characters and patterns. Carl Jung theorized that we are born with innate tendencies to perceive things a certain way: “a kind of readiness to reproduce over and over again the same or similar mythical ideas . . .”1. These repeated ideas are archetypes. The basic legend of The Phantom takes place in 19th century Paris, and is that of a young and talented, but untrained singer named Christine. Erik, the Phantom, is a disfigured genius of many fields, including music, architecture, magic, and science. His fatal flaw stems from his strong dislike and mistrust of the rest of the human race, which has been very unkind to him throughout his life. He encounters Christine in the Paris Opera House, becomes infatuated with her, and initially claims to be her otherworldly musical tutor. Conflict occurs when Christine is torn between Erik’s dark and passionate world, and her innocent love for the well-bred Raoul. These fundamentals of the story of The Phantom are kept in tact among the versions, while changes are made to target the adaptation to a certain audience. Another common attraction is to the personality of Erik, a character often repeated in literature. Erik’s relationship with Christine also encompasses many archetypal patterns, and the love triangle among Christine, Erik and Raoul is a recurring human behaviour2. In addition, there are several object-oriented archetypes throughout the story. Repetition of patterns and characters in The Phantom of the Opera creates a universal appeal for the tale.
…anges to target the legend to different types of people, but the archetypes always remain.
1 Carl Jung, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, 7
2 Anthony Pena, Unus Mundus: Archetypes and Dreams
3 Kate McMullan, The Phantom of the Opera, 5
4 Amazon.com sales rank as of May 2000
5 Charlotte Vale Allen, Night Magic, 203
6 Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera, 334
7 Charles Horton Cooley, Human Nature and the Social Order, 155
8 Charles Darwin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
9 Joseph Henderson, “Ancient Myths and Modern Man,” Man and His Symbols, Carl Jung, ed., 152
10 Anthony Pena, Unus Mundus: Archetypes and Dreams
11 Angela Mattos, The Labyrinth
12 InDreaMensions, Archetypes Glossary
15 John L. Flynn, Phantoms of the Opera: The Man Behind the Mask