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Literature / The Phantom of the Opera

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The Phantom of the Opera was a Gothic Horror novel by French author and renowned mystery writer Gaston Leroux, published in serialized form in Le Galouis in 1909 and 1910. Leroux tells what he insists is the true story of a young soprano, Christine, who believes she is being tutored by the "Angel of Music", sent to her from Heaven from her deceased father. Originally considered nothing special, especially compared to her rival and the opera's resident diva, Carlotta, after three months under the Angel's tutelage, Christine shines. The managers quickly realize the depth of her talent... and so does Christine's childhood best friend, Raoul, who sees her in all her newfound glory and realizes that She Is All Grown Up.

After a show, Raoul is eager to be reacquainted with Christine, but she is kidnapped by the Angel (really the titular Phantom) and taken to his lair. There, the Phantom puts her under his spell with his music and tells her that he wants her for his bride. However, when Christine takes off his mask to reveal his disfigurement, the Phantom throws her out in shame.

Shortly afterwards, Raoul and Christine become engaged. The Phantom overhears them, and decides to win Christine's love, once and for all... or, failing that, punish them both for their arrogance.

Also has had a good number of adaptations throughout the years. The novel is notable for being heavily influenced by Trilby, particularly Svengali.

Contains examples of:

  • Abominable Auditorium: The Opera House in The Phantom of the Opera was designed by the Phantom himself, and comes equipped with dozens of secret passages and hidden chambers that he can use to his advantage, including a private lair deep beneath the building. For most of the story, the Phantom is terrorizing the staff, extorting money from the managers, grooming a young ingenue for stardom, and is fully prepared to murder both audience members and employees if he doesn't get what he wants.
  • Above the Influence: Christine obviously expects several times to be raped during her two abductions, but it turns out the Phantom respects her privacy and honor, though it’s played with in that he comes off almost asexual and seems to want Christine as his wife for dressing up, taking out on walks, and spoiling with presents, rather than sleeping with, in the first place.
  • Affably Evil: The usher Madame Giry certainly thinks so — as far as she knows, the Phantom is always a polite patron and a generous tipper who promises to make her daughter an Empress.
  • Agent Scully: Mifroid and Faure, the police commissary and examining magistrate, laugh at Raoul's and the Persian's stories about the phantom of the opera.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Even Christine, the Persian, and the Narrator feel sorry for the homicidal maniac stalker's Death by Despair.
  • An Aesop: Nobody is born inherently cruel, and people who are have most likely become so due to a traumatic past, and while Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse, it's still in society's best interest to be compassionate to those who are often shunned so they don't become monsters.
  • Antagonist Title: But then again...
  • Artifact Title: For English translations that refer to Erik as "the Opera ghost" or "the ghost" in the text instead of "phantom."
  • Backstory: The Persian tells the Phantom's backstory to Raoul (and to the narrator later).
  • Bad Liar: Christine, to the point where the Persian is practically Face Palming as she fails to Show Some Leg to Erik to get him and Raoul out of the torture chamber unnoticed.
    • In her first meeting with Raoul in years, she lies about knowing him to protect him from Erik who was eavesdropping. While it convinces Raoul to some degree, Erik is not fooled since she admitted to Erik that Raoul was a childhood friend of hers earlier.
  • Beast and Beauty: Tragic enough to border on Deconstruction.
  • Beta Couple: Count Philippe and La Sorelli.
  • Betty and Veronica: With Raoul as Betty, the nice childhood sweetheart, and The Phantom filling the role of Veronica, the passionate madman.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Letting Christine go is, unquestionably, the right thing for Erik to do... but it's still hard not to feel sorry for him.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Opera House. Originally this was because the Phantom was actually the architect and did it on purpose, but later versions leave it unexplained.
  • Blackmail: The Phantom demands 240,000 francs a year and exclusive use of First Tier Box 5 or else he'll drop chandeliers on people.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Christine tries to do this to Raoul to save him from Erik's wrath. She goes so far as to deny knowing him during their first meeting in years.
  • Building of Adventure: The Paris Opera.
  • Captain Obvious: Christine, when warning Raoul and the Persian: "You're inside the Torture Room! Get back the way you came from! There must be a reason for the room to be called like that!".
  • Cassandra Truth: After Christine is abducted from on-stage, Raoul quickly gains a solid reputation as a madman when he begs anyone who will listen to believe that she's been kidnapped by the phantom of the opera who lives in the cellars under the building.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Christine and Raoul.
  • Cold Iron: Is that the phantom coming? Run to touch iron, if you didn't take the precaution of having keys or a horseshoe near you!
  • Compelling Voice: Yes, this does come across all too well in a literary medium.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Long before even meeting Christine, Erik worked for the Shah of Persia: the little sultana, the favorite of the Shah-in-Shah, was boring herself to death. Erik built a Hall of Mirrors for her. When she got bored of that, Erik transformed it into a Robotic Torture Device, aptly named “the chamber of horrors”, used to execute people sentenced to death. He also taught her how to strangle people efficiently with the Punjab lasso. The little sultana soon applied that knowledge to simple peasants and her own friends.
    "Wretched man!" I cried. "Have you forgotten the rosy hours of Mazenderan?"
    "Yes," he replied, in a sadder tone, "I prefer to forget them. I used to make the little sultana laugh, though!"
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Erik becomes more and more vicious and threatening towards Christine as his jealousy of Raoul grows.
  • Damsel in Distress: Christine.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mifroid.
    • Erik also has his moments.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The final line of the novel is a plea for giving Erik's body this treatment. Oddly enough, it seems to be a Type 1, where the person was an honored figure (despite the fact that Erik was an unrepentant killer), and his body would be preserved as a relic/object of reverence:
    And, now, what do they mean to do with that skeleton? Surely they will not bury it in the common grave! ... I say that the place of the skeleton of the Opera ghost is in the archives of the National Academy of Music. It is no ordinary skeleton.
  • Death by Childbirth: Raoul's mother.
  • Death Trap: The Phantom installed one as the first room beyond the back entrance to his lair to intercept trespassers. When Raoul and the Persian fall into it, it starts as a Sauna of Death and ends as a Drowning Pit, although its greatest torture is psychological.
  • Decoy Protagonist: La Sorelli seems to be set up to be the female lead in the first chapter, but after the first few chapters she never shows up again.
  • Deceptively Human Robots: Erik "also invented those automata, dressed like the Sultan and resembling the Sultan in all respects, which made people believe that the Commander of the Faithful was awake at one place, when, in reality, he was asleep elsewhere." for Mehemet Alí Bey.
  • Direct Line to the Author: The Narrator claims he put together the story from firsthand accounts from people who lived and worked at the Opera House.
  • Disappeared Dad: During his Motive Rant, the Phantom laments (among other things) how he never knew his father.
  • Domestic Abuser: Erik could be a deconstruction if not an Unbuilt Trope. In the original book, the author wants you to think Erik's a Jerkass and Christine is a saint for putting up with him: (Domestic Abuser meets Love Martyr), but the Misaimed Fandom (and some of the adaptations) wants you to think Erik's totally hot and the relationship is deliciously kinky.
  • Dramatic Unmask: It drives Erik into a rage to have his deformed face exposed.
  • Driven to Suicide: Torture Technician Erik's favorite method of disposing of his victims with his "chamber of horrors". If you are lucky, he only will strangle you to death.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: When your evil genius's skillset involve architecture, you end up with a sprawling underground lair complete with lake, pipe organ, and mechanized death pits.
  • Entitled to Have You: Erik sees Christine's love for Raoul as betrayal.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The whole point of the novel is that Erik never believed that Christine could love him and so he was ready to destroy himself, her and everyone in the Opera house, but when she really accepts to be with him if he spares Raoul and lets him kiss her, Erik is so moved that he lets her go.
  • Evil Laugh: Which leads Christine and the Persian to suspect poor Erik is (going) insane.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Raoul, twice. Christine is not too happy about it.
  • Faint in Shock:
    • Christine faints on stage after her splendid gala performance. Possibly exacerbated by exhaustion.
    • The first time the Phantom abducts her, Christine faints due to the smell of death on his hand.
    • When Raoul first comes face to face with Erik in the Perros graveyard, he faints. Understandable, as Erik has been trying to freak him out by playing the ghost and throwing skulls at him.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Probably not the Trope Maker, but definitely the Trope Codifier and still one of the most famous examples of the breed. Based on a real-life accident when one of the counterweights of the Opera House's grand chandelier fell into the auditorium and killed a woman.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Christine sees being married to Erik as this, as she tries to kill herself when she's abducted for the final time. The Persian is likewise convinced that she will decline Erik's marriage proposal and choose death, and rushes to warn her that Erik will blow up the opera house and kill everyone else with her if she does.
  • Faux Affably Evil: In the same conversation Erik explains how he pulled the Practical Joke on Carlotta with his Ventriloquism he casually uses it to prank Raoul and the Daroga in the Torture Cellar.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who reads the prologue knows that the Persian survives to tell his story to the narrator, Christine and Raoul disappear from Parisian society never to be seen again, and Erik and Philippe both die.
  • Framing Device: Leroux framed the story as a result of his investigations of the Opera house and the mystery of the Phantom of the Opera.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: After running away from home, Erik was exhibited as “the living corpse” in fairs across all Europe, then learnt to be a magician and artist from the Gypsies. He was a great singer and ventriloquist and displayed great feats of legerdemain. The Shah-in-Shah, hearing about him, sent the Daroga to bring him to Persia. While there, he developed a talent for murder.
  • The Gentleman or the Scoundrel: Raoul and Erik, with Raoul being the gentleman due to his being upper class, usually polite, and genuinely on good terms with Christine, while the dangerous and uncontrollable Erik whom can mesmerize Christine with his artistic passion as a singer is the scoundrel. This trope is downplayed, however, as Christine spends most of the novel trying to get away from Erik's influence and join up with Raoul.
  • Gilded Cage: Christine's Louis-Philippe bedroom in Erik's house.
  • Gothic Horror: While a later example, the novel ticks all the boxes. Mysterious classical architecture, a foreboding evil lair with a torture chamber, a story heavy on the Romanticism, an atmosphere filled with dread and the thrill and fear of the unknown surrounding the Phantom. The story is full of Revenge, superstition, madness, and forbidden love.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Phantom's gold eyes can only be seen in the dark, and they glow like a cat's.
  • The Grotesque: Subverted by Erik, whose deformities make him a living corpse, but also averts being a Gentle Giant: he is so socially deformed that his attitude as a psychopathic, jealous monster makes him truly terrifying. Ironically, his morally ambiguous attitude lets him fit into society very well, because Humans Are Bastards.
    • The Narrator lampshades in the Epilogue that Erik, with an ordinary face, would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind, due in no small part to his artistic and engineering skill. However, Erik is vindictive towards the humanity that rejected him, he holds human life at no value, and his act of mercy surprised even him.
  • Hall of Mirrors: The torture chamber in Erik's house is constructed with heat-reflecting mirrors. The heat, along with the multiple reflections of trees, creates the illusion that the victim is trapped in a desert forest.
  • Happily Adopted: Christine by Madame Valerius after her father died.
  • He Who Must Not Be Named: Half the dancers and employees of the Paris Opera constantly try to tell the other half never to speak of "the ghost." The Persian refers to him as "He" around Raoul and orders Raoul not to say his name.
    • In Chapter XX, Raoul and the Persian come across a mysterious appearance while on the trail of the phantom. When asked by Raoul if this is another member of the theater police, the Persian responds "It's someone much worse than that!", the authors note attached to it furthermore states how the author "can give no further explanation touching the apparition of this shade", saying the reader must have to try and guess for himself. The nature of this mysterious person is then dropped, never to be mentioned again.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: The Phantom spends a lot of time as The Voice and The Faceless.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The narrator refers to Christine's first abduction (the one where she disappeared for two weeks) as "not the infamous abduction" which everyone has heard of. In context, this refers to how famous her second abduction became in the news in-universe, but the story is so famous now through Pop-Cultural Osmosis that this clarification seems to be Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
  • Hypnotize the Captive: The Phantom's voice has a seemingly mesmeric effect on Christine.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Given that the Phantom is not interested in sex, he pulls a And Now You Must Marry Me.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The Phantom's motivation — the guy doesn't actually like living underground.
  • Interrupted Suicide:
    • The Persian only just manages to stop Raoul from shooting himself in the torture chamber.
    • After abducting Christine to force her to marry him, Erik finds her trying to kill herself and ends up binding her to prevent another attempt.
  • In the Blood: Christine is following in her father's footsteps with her career in music.
  • It's All About Me: Arguably, everyone except Christine, the Persian and Madam Valerious:
    • Raoul: After Christine murmurs: “Poor Erik!”
    At first, he thought he must be mistaken. To begin with, he was persuaded that, if any one was to be pitied, it was he, Raoul. It would have been quite natural if she had said, "Poor Raoul," after what had happened between them. But, shaking her head, she repeated: "Poor Erik!" What had this Erik to do with Christine's sighs and why was she pitying Erik when Raoul was so unhappy?
    • Erik: After his Love Redeems scene, meets the Daroga, who asks him (repeatedly) about the murder of Count Philippe:
    "Daroga, don't talk to me ... about Count Philippe ... ""I have not come here ... to talk about Count Philippe ... but to tell you that ... I am going ... to die..."
    • Mme. Giry:
    "Mme. Giry. You know me well enough, sir; I'm the mother of little Giry, little Meg, what!"
    This was said in so rough and solemn a tone that, for a moment, M. Richard was impressed. He looked at Mme. Giry, in her faded shawl, her worn shoes, her old taffeta dress and dingy bonnet. It was quite evident from the manager's attitude, that he either did not know or could not remember having met Mme. Giry, nor even little Giry, nor even "little Meg!" But Mme. Giry's pride was so great that the celebrated box-keeper imagined that everybody knew her.
    • Moncharmin: Excerpt from the (exceptionally long) "Memories of a Manager":
    "A grievous accident spoiled the little party which MM. Debienne and Poligny gave to celebrate their retirement. I was in the manager's office, when Mercier, the acting-manager, suddenly came darting in. He seemed half mad and told me that the body of a scene-shifter had been found hanging in the third cellar under the stage, between a farm-house and a scene from the Roi de Lahore. I shouted: " 'Come and cut him down!'
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The Phantom, at the end, as he lets Christine go because he knows she loves Raoul and won't be happy married to him.
  • I Was Just Joking: Raoul wonders aloud how Erik knows how to work all the trap doors and navigate the secret passages. What, did he build them? The Persian explains, yes, he did.
  • The Kindnapper: Erik. He kidnaps Christine multiple times with the intention of romancing her and making her his wife so that he can buy her nice things and take her out on Sundays. He keeps her in a luxurious bedroom as well. Despite his becoming increasingly controlling and aggressive towards Christine, she develops a case of Stockholm Syndrome so bad that she even asks Raoul to take her far away from the Phantom No Matter How Much I Beg. Not that Raoul has a chance to follow up on that...
  • Lemony Narrator: Gaston Leroux, which Lowell Bair, at least, mostly preserves.
  • Living MacGuffin: Christine, whose very presence sets in motion Erik's downward spiral that leads to him almost blowing up the whole opera house, in addition to being the object of Raoul's affection.
  • Lost Wedding Ring: Erik gives Christine a plain wedding ring and says that she is protected so long as she wears it, although Raoul doesn't like it since he wants to marry Christine himself. Christine is thoroughly distressed when she loses the ring, because she doesn't know what will happen. In the final scenes, Erik is revealed to have found the ring, and he gives it to Christine when she promises to marry him.
  • Love at First Note: Erik falls in love with Christine because her voice, while untrained, is full of glorious potential; Christine falls in love with her "Angel of Music" because his voice is incomparably beautiful. (Subverted, in that the Phantom's voice remains incomparably beautiful but Christine very quickly falls out of love with him for a multitude of valid reasons.)
  • Love Hurts: Erik's love for Christine brings great pain towards both of them as their violent actions get worse, love for Christine and belief that Erik is a fellow suitor nearly drives Raoul mad, and many times, love is Erik's motivation to kill.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Erik is already an unbalanced individual by the start of the book, but a point is made of how falling in love with Christine, and becoming convinced that she loves him back, led to him becoming even worse than before.
  • Love Martyr: Christine — she herself lampshades it in everything but name, and Raoul is saddened but not at all surprised or confused to see how much she evidently cares for her psychotic, jealous, possessive stalker while fearing him at the same time.
  • Love Redeems: After finally getting Christine to marry him, and after kissing her on the forehead—in what was certainly the first time he'd ever been allowed to show affection to anyone in his life—Erik breaks down and lets Christine and Raoul go free, knowing that she'll be happier with the man she truly loves than with him.
  • Love Triangle: Raoul and Erik are both after Christine's affection, although on Christine's part, her feelings for Erik are a mix of pity and horror rather than love.
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: The connection between love and fear and which is the strongest is a recurring theme.
  • Mad Artist: The Phantom composes beautiful music. And, you know, kills people. Besides the music, Erik's many talents include being a great architect, the world’s best ventriloquist and a Torture Technician.
    "Did you design that room? It's very handsome. You're a great artist, Erik."
  • Mad Scientist: Deconstructed by Erik: He built a Robotic Torture Device / Death Trap and a Deceptively Human Robot at the middle of the 19th century, but his tragedy, as the Narrator lampshades in the Epilogue, is that he is so ugly he could never become a scientist, but rather a toyman or stage magician:
    And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind!
  • Masquerade Ball: Central enough to the story that the chapter in which it appears is named for it.
  • Matchlight Danger Revelation: Escaping the Death Trap to find a room full of gunpowder... this is just not your day, Raoul.
  • Meet Cute: Raoul and Christine met as children when the wind blew Christine's favorite red scarf into the sea and Raoul jumped in to rescue it. When they reunite as adults, they reminisce over the incident.
  • Melodrama; Pretty justified, given the time period in which the book was written.
  • The Moral Substitute: Erik is Don Giovanni done right: While Don Giovanni (and all versions of the Don Juan legend) is The Casanova who never cared if he hurts the women he claims to love and is sent to hell at the finale of the opera only to please the Moral Guardians who insist that Don Giovanni must be punished so the audience would not do this cool thing, Erik (who is Don Giovanni's Fanboy) who's also abusive to Christine while claiming to love her, but after breaking Christine’s spirit and successfully blackmailing her into being his wife, lets her go with Raoul by his own will after Christine let him kiss her.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: According to the narrator, the figure Raoul shot on his balcony was Erik coming to attempt this. Erik then gets another chance when Raoul and the Persian come to rescue Christine, and is only prevented from doing so when Christine swears to marry him.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Many of the characters in the original novel, including some of the main cast, are thinly veiled versions of real people who lived in Paris around the time Leroux wrote the story, and a few references to real events are also made. Some scholarly fans have even suggested that apart from the parts which involve the Phantom, the book was essentially a true story, although this is almost certainly heavy exaggeration.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: Christine eventually tells Raoul to take her out of the country away from Erik no matter how much she protests later.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: The Phantom is everywhere and sees and hears everything! This is later explained in that The Phantom can move through the hatches on the Opera, and some rooms were intentionally designed to be spied upon.
  • Parental Substitute: Mama Valerius for Christine. Count Philippe is also 20 years older than his brother Raoul and has raised him since their father died when the latter was 12.
  • Plucky Girl: Christine is a Swedish peasant girl trying to make her way in the world and a name for herself with her singing, not to mention all the physical, mental, and emotional torture she has to endure, mostly on her own unless she's trying to protect her boyfriend as well.
  • Pretty Boy: Raoul, according to Leroux's description of him in Chapter 2.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Persian and Erik himself lampshade Erik's attitude as childish, and despite his multiple talents, he is not interested in sex but to have a beautiful wife and a life like any other guy. It’s only when he actually triumphs that he realizes how impractical those dreams are.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Deconstructed with Opera managers Richard and Moncharmin: Everybody knows they got their jobs thanks to their connections, and that they don’t know a lot about music or how to run the Opera. Nobody really respects them and they're accustomed to cruel pranks and jokes, and thus they never take the Opera Ghost's threats seriously until the Falling Chandelier of Doom incident.
  • The Power of Love: Ultimately, Christine's love convinces Erik to release her.
  • Practical Joke: Opera managers Richard and Moncharmin believe that each and every one of the strange happenings at the Opera are this. Justified in that they're two Pointy-Haired Bosses and they get no respect.
  • The Prima Donna: Carlotta. She becomes this rather than improving her skill any further, once reaching the peak of her career.
  • Professional Killer: According to the Persian, Erik did this as part of his work for the Shah-in-Shah:
    He took part calmly in a number of political assassinations;
  • Proto-Superhero: The Phantom is an archetype for many later supervillain concepts.
  • The Rival: Carlotta for Christine.
  • Redundant Rescue: Raoul's and the Persian's rescue mission ends with Christine being forced to save them from the Phantom's Death Trap.
  • Retired Monster: Erik, after his From Nobody to Nightmare phase, survives the assassination attempts from his employers because He Knows Too Much.
    "Then, tired of his adventurous, formidable and monstrous life, he longed to be someone "like everybody else." And he became a contractor, like any ordinary contractor, building ordinary houses with ordinary bricks. He tendered for part of the foundations in the Opera. His estimate was accepted."
  • Robotic Torture Device: The aptly named "torture chamber" is completely automated: when the victim falls in the room, it activates and gives him the illusion of a tropical forest. When the victim cannot endure any more, there's also a rope to hang himself. The Phantom uses it as a defense against curious people. The first victim of the book was already dead when the Phantom found him.
  • Save the Villain: The Persian saved Erik's life during their backstory in Persia; he now frequently laments "My God, What Have I Done?"
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: The Phantom threatens to blow up the Opera, killing everyone inside, if Christine doesn't marry him.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Erik is pretending to be a ghost haunting the opera house.
  • Scrapbook Story: We hear the story from the Narrator based on his research (which contains several flashbacks narrated by Christine to Raoul and by Madame Giry to the new managers), memories of one of the new Opera managers Moncharmin, and the Persian.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Deconstructed in the original book, which shows the consequences of a society that embraces this principle: Richard and Moncharmin know how to play politics better than to manage an opera house, and Carlotta knows it's easier being The Prima Donna than to sing better. This means that everyone is a Pointy-Haired Boss who doesn’t know how to do their job. What's more, every employee knows this as well, so the managers are Properly Paranoid about being pranked by them because nobody respects them. They're also the ideal victims for a Blackmailer, and that’s how Erik could convince them into letting him do whatever he pleases.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The departure of Opera co-managers Poligny and Debienne, at the very start of the book - once a Phantom starts skulking around their Opera and delivering Blackmail demands, they waste no time passing the buck and getting out of the Opera business as fast as they can.
    • Also Raoul de Chagny and Christine Daae (with Mama Valerious) flee from Paris to "the northern railway station of the world." Even when Raoul is a victim of the Malicious Slandering that accuses him of his brother’s death, they never look back.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Before their reunion at the Paris Opera, Raoul and Christine were childhood friends and last met on the verge of adolescence and strange new feelings that they couldn't understand.
  • Shoot the Builder: After Erik built his palace in Mazendaran, the Shah-in-Shah tried to do this to Erik. It didn't work.
  • Shoot the Messenger: The standard method of solving any problem by Pointy-Haired Bosses Richard and Moncharmin is to fire those employees involved in it. Only those with enough influence can escape.
  • Shout-Out: To Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death." Prior to Phantom, Leroux was best known as a detective novelist (Phantom itself is technically a mystery), and Poe was one of the first writers of detective fiction.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: In-Universe: Pointy-Haired Bosses Richard and Moncharmin and The Prima Donna Carlotta. Madam Giry is lampshaded as this (see It's All About Me), a humble usher who thinks of herself as an equal to the Opera’s administrators… just moments before they fire her. But Fridge Brilliance shows us how this is subverted: In Parisian society at this point, it’s not what you do, it’s who you know. Madam Giry knows the Phantom and he is happy with her work. Therefore, she is more important than Richard and Moncharmin. She gets her job back pretty quickly.
  • Snipe Hunt: Inspector Mifroid attempts to send Raoul to one, claiming that his brother Philippe kidnapped Christine and is headed to Brussels. He nearly falls for it until he bumps into the Persian, who reveals that Christine is actually in Erik's captivity.
  • Stage Money: How Erik gets his 20,000 francs each month without being caught. Moncharmin and Richard give Madame Giry an envelope containing the cash to place in Box Five as instructed by Erik. She has a second, identical envelope full of fake bills, given to her by Erik; she puts the fake in the box, pockets the real one, and drops it into a manager's coat pocket. Later, while the managers are in their office, Erik opens a small trapdoor on the floor and swipes the cash from that pocket.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Erik to a T.
  • Stalking is Love: Again, Erik. And Raoul.
  • Start of Darkness: The Phantom's exile from the human race because of his ugliness.
  • Supervillain Lair: Erik's an architect who's had plenty of time to trick out his underground lair with both elaborate death-traps and sumptuous living quarters.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: The narrator suggests that the readers pity Erik for the life that he lived, and the fact that he was not able to reach his full potential of the good he could have done the world with his genius if not for his hideous appearance that led society to reject him. During the story itself, Christine is also shown as having immense sympathy for Erik, as one of her reasons for not cutting and running from the opera house when she has the chance is that it would be "too cruel" to him.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Explanation for the difference between Carlotta and Christine. Carlotta is technically perfect but has no soul to her singing, which is why her croaking on stage is such a big deal as it had never happened before. On the other hand, Christine sings with incredible passion when she is on top of her game, but she is a very erratic performer and the narrator points out quite a few moments when she is not singing well.
  • Tempting Fate: A near-epidemic among the characters. Sure, Christine, it's perfectly safe to discuss your Ax-Crazy voice teacher on the roof of the very building he's been living in for years. That eerie disembodied voice you hear echoing your words is just the wind, really...
  • Tender Tears: When Erik kisses Christine, both weep: Erik because he's never been able to kiss someone before, not even his own mother, and Christine because she realizes this.
  • There Are No Good Executives: This is the reason Erik could maintain his reign of terror: In Parisian society, it’s not what you do, it’s who you know. Therefore the executives at the Opera and the police are not only corrupt, but are also Pointy-Haired Bosses who don’t care about how to do their job properly, but rather how to practice office politics and be discreet with any problem (read: sweeping it under the rug).
  • Third-Person Person: Erik does this when he is particularly upset or angry. So, a lot.
  • Those Two Guys: Opera managers Richard and Moncharmin.
  • Together in Death: The Phantom's backup plan.
    • This was Erik's real plan all along. Erik really never believed that Christine could marry him without being Driven to Suicide. When Christine convinces him she will not attempt suicide and lets Erik kiss her, Erik is so shocked he lets her go.
  • Torture Cellar: An automated one!
  • Torture Technician: The Persian reveals that Erik worked as one of these for the Shah-in-Shah in Mazenderan. It explains a lot of things.
  • Tragic Monster: Erik, who has known nothing but hatred and fear his entire life, and wants desperately for someone, anyone to love him.
  • Truth in Television: Because it was built on swampy ground, there really is a lake beneath the Palais Garnier. (And it has fish in it!) Today it's used to train Parisian firefighters for underwater rescues.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: What would have been, had Erik carried through with his ultimate plan, given his deformities and Christine's beauty.
  • Unseen Pen Pal: Christine only communicates with Erik through her wall for three months, never seeing his face and only knowing him as "the Angel of Music." She tells Raoul that she fell madly in love with him, but she was also terrified at the control he had over her soul — she couldn't recognize herself anymore, did whatever he told her... When Raoul tries to tell her adoptive mother that she's in over her head with a guy she doesn't know, Christine gives him the familiar "You-don't-know-anything-about-him-it's-none-of-your-business" speech. Then, of course, he kidnaps her (drugging her to ensure her cooperation), leading to the infamous Dramatic Unmask...
  • Vampires Sleep in Coffins: Erik, who has to an extent internalized his appearance as a walking corpse, sleeps in a coffin.
  • Ventriloquism: The Persian declares that Erik is the best ventriloquist in the whole world. He must be, because he uses this skill to do a lot of Practical Jokes, including convincing Opera Singer Carlotta (and all the Opera’s audience) that she croaked like a toad.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The story was inspired by an incident at the Palais Garnier opera house in 1893, where a counterweight from the chandelier fell through the ceiling and struck a concierge below, killing her instantly. Gaston Leroux, then a journalist, based the story's mystery elements on a theory that the tragedy was actually a failed murder plot.
    • And the skeleton of Erik's featured in the novel was inspired by the persistent Real Life rumors that a real skeleton had been utilized for the 1841 Paris Opera staging of the "Der Freischütz". The rumors themselves were just that, however.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Christine notices that Erik gets more unhinged and frightening as the plot progresses.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Christine never lets Raoul push her around and has no problem telling him to mind his own business repeatedly.
    "I am a free agent, Monsieur de Chagny; you have no right to control my actions and I will ask that you desist henceforth. As for what I have done during the past fortnight, there is only one man in the world who would have the right to demand that I give him an account: my husband! Well, I have no husband, and I shall never marry!”
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Christine and her guardian both chew out Raoul for too quickly assuming the rights of a husband or lover with his love interest and meddling in Christine's private affairs. He knows they're right, but Love Makes You Crazy.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Leroux reveals what happened to a few minor characters in the prologue; Meg, for example, eventually marries a baron and becomes the Baroness de Castelot-Barbezac, and Sorelli retires to write her memoirs, as do the managers.
  • Wicked Cultured: Erik has an encyclopedic knowledge of fine art, opera, classical music, and of course, wine.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Erik — he murders at least three people over the course of the plot and is definitely not the sanest person on the block, but Leroux expresses pity for him in the epilogue, lamenting what Erik's genius could have given to the world if only the world had not mistreated him.
    • Arguably, he's this the entire time due simply to his appearance; at the time, Beauty Equals Goodness was commonly enough believed to be Truth in Television. Imagine what people who believe that are going to think of somebody like Erik—no matter what he does...
    • And yet simultaneously, and equally to his disadvantage, people of his era were much more used to mundane birth defects and scars than we are today, simply because we can now fix most forms of disfiguration with reconstructive surgery. Erik's unspecified condition (which largely resembles congenital syphilis, which would also explain his erratic mental state even aside from the lifetime of abuse) is so horrific to look at that no one has any context for it besides comparing him to a rotting corpse rather than a disfigured living person, which cannot have helped his baggage.