What are the 3 main symbols in The Phantom of the Opera?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are far more than three, but I will choose the most outstanding symbols from The Phantom of the Opera. First, and easily most recognizable, is the mask worn by Erik. The mask symbolizes the dual nature of Erik's facade. While it does allow him to "pass" in the...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

There are far more than three, but I will choose the most outstanding symbols from The Phantom of the Opera. First, and easily most recognizable, is the mask worn by Erik. The mask symbolizes the dual nature of Erik's facade. While it does allow him to "pass" in the world of men, it also sets him apart completely, more so that a disfigurement would.

Second is the trap doors and inventions that Erik has created. He uses these traps to effortlessly move through the theater as well as manipulate the occurrences on stage. This is symbolic of the god-like and seemingly omnipotent nature of the phantom in his own environment.

The final symbol I would present would be that of the music itself. It is a symbol of the profound and spiritual experience that all of the characters search for, emphasized heavily by Christine's father's stories of the "Angel of Music."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The mask is arguably the most important symbol in the story, and in fact, it has become the primary image associated with both the novel and the play. The mask is an obvious symbol in that it conceals the truth; it hides the real person beneath the artifice, the real feelings behind the show. In advertisements for the performance of the opera, however, the iconic image of the mask often appears with the image of a rose. The rose is an equally important symbol in the story, as it represents the Phantom’s passion. The rose is beautiful but dangerous, and this duality applies to the phantom’s passion as well. The rose is lovely and alluring, but its thorns can pierce your heart. Thus, the rose represents the beauty of the Phantom’s love for Christine and the pain of his broken heart. The thorny part of the rose also represents the darker side of his love. Another important symbol in story is the music of the opera itself. Music fuels the play, and it symbolizes inspiration and spiritual enlightenment. It also fuels the passion between the Phantom and Christine.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The phantom symbolizes the contrast between what is real and what isn't. Wearing his mask, he's a man with whom Christine can sympathize. Without his mask, he is so horrible that Christine can no longer look upon him. this can be extended to the mask that we all wear in dealing with others.

The phantom also symbolizes illusion. No one knows if he really exists or not. The phantom's elusive character again represents the appearances that people put on, so others won't know the true reality of their lives.

The opera house represents the dark side of life, the evil that exists in life. If you look at how it's described, it helps the author to create the elements of horror.

Erik's face represents death. As a young man, he billed himself as the living dead man.

These are but a few of the symbols, but if you go to the website below, you can find further details.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team