Synopses & Reviews
Set in the Paris opera house in 1881, The Phantom of the Opera contrasts reality and fantasy, good and evil. A dark psychological tale of obsession and redemption in which the Phantom can be seen as anyone's superego -- Leroux's masterpiece has been too long in the shadows.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 283-284).
Anne Perry, the Edgar Award-winning author of more than thirty novels, is best known for her two Victorian mystery series. Her recent books include Death of a Stranger, The Whitechapel Conspiracy, and Funeral in Blue. She lives in Scotland.
Reading Group Guide
1. 1. Some modern critics feel the characters in The Phantom of the Opera
are static and shallow, that Christine is too innocent, Raoul too noble, and Eriks obsession with Christine never fully explained. Do you think Leroux purposely did this, and if so, why?
2. 2. The Phantom of the Opera was published as the romantic movement was slowly turning into the gothic movement. How would you classify it?
3. 3. Leroux wrote The Phantom of the Opera in a time when there was widespread French interest in Freudian psychoanalysis and particularly the libidinal/infantile/mother-seeking unconscious. How does Leroux work this into his novel? Are there characters that fit the infant or mother role?
4. 4. Some critics see the Phantom as simply the unconscious, the Freudian superego. Do you believe this is what Leroux was truly writing about, or did he give his monster more depth?
5. 5. Some see Erik as not shifting his class status, the theme of many gothic novels, but instead shifting his race. What scenes in the text help, or hinder, this assessment? Why would Leroux write of something so controversial?
6. 6. One of Lerouxs major themes in this novel is the changing of ones class. Consider Christine, the daughter of a fairground fiddle player, now besting the most talented opera singer in Paris and winning the heart of a viscount. What is Leroux saying here? Is it meant to simply be a happy ending?