~ The mystery of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ ~ 🖤🌹

‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is definitely a tale about escapism- Christine spends her whole life being coached by a ‘mysterious voice’ that mentors her to do better and achieve beyond what she thought possible, when she finally steps through the mirror and meets the man behind the voice, her illusion shatters and she is repulsed by his deformed face. 💀

Instead, she goes for her childhood sweetheart Raoul, and, the phantom realises that despite all he’s given her, she still turns away in horror. She pities him and yet still agrees to lay a trap, by going along with his grand plans for her on the stage, but in the end, his jealousy still destroys them (and the opera house which is also his home.) 🎼🎭

We see him as the villain of the story, but we also feel sorry for him, hiding away with no love and kindness- and perhaps it’s this forced solitude & space to develop his talents that turns him into a musical genius. There are many things to learn from it, that you can’t force love, that you can’t expect too much from anyone, yet also the power of forgiveness and also dedication throughout a lifetime. 🖤🖤

Another thing I love about the Phantom are the aesthetics, the opulent backdrop & historical references- after all it’s a theatre, the masquerade balls, the grandness, and of course, the amazing soundtrack!! Andrew Lloyd Webber really transformed it and made it his own- hence why it still stands the test of time. 👰🏻👻🎞⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

~ 𝔔𝔲𝔬𝔱𝔢 𝔠𝔬𝔯𝔫𝔢𝔯~

“They played at hearts as other children might play at ball; only, as it was really their two hearts that they flung to and fro, they had to be very, very handy to catch them, each time, without hurting them.”

“And, despite the care which she took to look behind her at every moment, she failed to see a shadow which followed her like her own shadow, which stopped when she stopped, which started again when she did and which made no more noise than a well-conducted shadow should.”

“Northanger Abbey”~ Let’s talk Austen!

Felicity-Jones-Northanger-Abbey-felicity-jones-16178818-2560-1414Northanger Abbey is notably a coming of age story. So can the protagonist Catherine be considered an inspiring heroine?

“Catherine Morland, a quixotic young woman who sees things through the distorted lens of the Gothic novel, must grow out of that illusion. In doing so, she follows the trajectory typical of all true novels: she moves from innocence to experience. Catherine must change, she must react to life and become, by the end of her story, another person”- from the introduction by Alfred Mac Adam.

So what does this book teach you? That reading too many Gothic novels leaves you unprepared for the real world? That you ought to look out for ‘false friends’? That you shouldn’t make too many presumptions about other people, especially their parents- which can lead you into a lot of trouble?

If you have ever felt frustration, you will relate to this novel in some degree. The amount of times Catherine is stopped in pursuing a path, or keeping a promise, or thwarted in her plans is truly frustrating. It is definitely something the modern reader can empathise with, when often good intentions do not turn out quite as you expect.

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Henry Tilney & Catherine Morland

It has a simple storyline, it is humorous, satirical and mysterious. Catherine is a romantic girl and dreams about things that, let’s face it- are unlikely to happen in real life, hence she is often disappointed. She is young, but also (another country girl comparable to Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby) a moral character. If she has done wrong or made a mistake, she will do all she can to remedy it, no matter pride or the consequence. In this light, it makes her a likeable character.

“She mediated, by turns, on broken promises and broken arches, phaetons and false hangings, Tilneys and trap-doors.” 

Northanger Abbey - Lismore Castle

Northanger Abbey – Lismore Castle

The story details Gothic castles, suspicious looking chests, locked rooms and mysterious notes. Definitely something for the lovers of Gothic fiction. However Catherine’s romantic fancies lead her to some dramatic conclusions and she must learn to not only respect the feelings of others but also to atone for her mistakes- especially to those she has come to love.

I have known people to say they do not like this novel. It is perfectly fine, because Jane Austen isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. So what do other famous authors think of her? Charlotte Bronte resented what she called Austen’s lack of sentiment, “I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses.”  Mark Twain went even far as to say “Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone..” Wow…steady on there Twain! Let’s just agree that all novels (and authors) have their merits eh!

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On a more positive note, Penguin calls Northanger Abbey the ‘most youthful and optimistic’ of Jane Austen’s romances. Perhaps because it is fun, light hearted and a comparatively short novel; different to some of her other perhaps more universally liked works, such as “Sense and Sensibility” or “Emma”. But there is something reliable in the unlikely 17yr old heroine Catherine. She has a good heart and means well, thrust into an adventure she could little foresee.  As Alfred Mac Adam claims, she matures as the novel progresses, changing her view on life, but most importantly, of herself as a person. It is something we as readers can definitely relate to as we follow her journey.

The World of Edgar Allen Poe

Some of you may have heard of him, some of you may not. However, it is hard not to come across something he has influenced.

So why is Edgar Allen Poe so famous?

Firstly, he is said to be the inventor of detective fiction, inspiring young readers today with his portrayals of the gothic and horror genre. Secondly (and importantly for us writers), rather than to deliver a message, he believed a poem’s “first obligation is to create beauty through rhythm, rhyme, and visual imagery.” Not only are his stories eerie and terrifying, but they reach into the deepest recesses of the reader’s sub conscious and into the darkness of human nature.

His works explore the juxtaposition between madness and sanity, the dead and their power over the living, of love versus all consuming hate, as well as the inner exploration of the self. Perhaps Poe’s most famous poems include “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee”, and short stories such as “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Murders at the Rue Morgue.” He was able to create such a variety of poetry and prose, appealing to a universal reader. They are dark, unsettling and macabre and it is hard to find another author who quite writes like he does.

“The Raven”

 

Perhaps my personal favourite is “The Masque of Red Death”. It is intriguing, captivating and rich with colour and imagery. While the plague rages on in the country, Prince Prospero locks up his castle and invites guests to enjoy themselves at a grand masquerade ball, a retreat away from the death outside his walls. We are introduced to an enchanting setting, where everything is opulent, gaudy with aspects of the grotesque. Each room is a different colour, decorated with silks and damask, under the rule of the selfish Prince. Before long, the red death is revealed by the figure of an unknown masquerade character, who having brought the plague into the walls of the castle and causes Death to all present; simply vanishes into nothing.

There’s something about it that reminds me of the “Phantom of the Opera”, of which there is a similar masquerade scene…

“Phantom of the Opera” (2004)

 

“That which you mistake for madness is but an over acuteness of the senses.” Many of Poe’s characters profess their “sanity” despite the cruelty of their actions- actions which are strategically planned and carried out, such as in the story “The Tell Tale Heart” first published in 1843.

Ranging from melancholy to despair- there is a certain mystery that surrounds his works, and an equal mystery associated with his death in Baltimore. Yet there is no denying it, there is something haunting about his writing, something that stays with you; a long time after you have turned the last page…

Fun Fact: If anyone is familiar with the film “Holes”, you will notice there is a scene where Kate Barlow is reciting a poem to her pupil. The character of Sam overhears it and starts to quote…

“I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea;

But we loved with a love that was more than love-

I and my Annabel Lee-“

 

You got it! It’s Poe once again-

Do you have a favourite of Poe’s work? Have you seen the film adaptation called “The Raven”?