The Phantom of the Opera

by Gaston Leroux
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What subjects and themes explored in The Phantom of the Opera are relevant in society today?

The Phantom of the Opera deals with themes such as social ostracism, the feeling of being rejected by society and the need to "mask" one's true self in order to fit in.

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There are a lot of themes in Phantom of the Opera which resonate in modern society. One which comes to mind is the theme of social ostracism and how it can contribute to warping people's behavior. The Phantom's quest for revenge is, in his mind, justified, because he has been mistreated by society. He thinks that he will not be accepted for who he is, and, therefore, has to wear a mask in order to make society accept him. This is a theme that, in its general sense, is applicable in every society; many people feel they need to "wear a mask" in a metaphorical sense in order to fit in, whether or not this is really true. In more nuanced senses, we could identify the Phantom's behavior with the thread that often connects modern high school shooters and terrorists——people who feel they have been ostracized from society, usually young white men who have found it difficult to make friends and fit in, commit depraved acts in order to draw attention to themselves because they feel that, otherwise, they are ignored. In The Phantom of the Opera, the theme of anger driven by the hero's sense of rejection is certainly relevant to us today and a concern to which we have not yet found a solution.

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One of the subjects and themes of The Phantom of the Opera that is still relevant today is the choice that people must make between professional success and personal happiness. Christine agrees to be beholden to Erik, the phantom, so that she can achieve success in the opera, but Erik forces her to be  a virtual prisoner to him and to give up her true love, Raoul. The parallel to today's society is that many people sacrifice personal happiness, such as time spent doing what they love or time spent with their families and loved ones, to achieve success in the professional world. Another theme is the meaning of true love. At first, Erik feels that he wants to entrap Christine and kill off her lover, Raoul, but he comes to realize that true love means letting Christine be free to marry as she wishes and allowing her to live the life she wants. 

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