The Phantom of the Opera

Erik of the Phantom of the Opera and Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights as Byronic Heroes 12th Grade

The Byronic Hero is a variant of the Romantic Hero who possesses an “expression which indicates a mixture of contempt and gloom”[1] and whose behaviour is unpredictable, “moodily taciturn and violently explosive.”[2] However, the Byronic Hero has a redeeming characteristic or quality that earns him the title ‘hero.’ Leslie Fielder defines the “hero-villain as indeed an invention of the gothic form” and thus links to the gothic as his “temptation, suffering, the beauty and terror of his bondage to evil are amongst its major themes.”[3] The Byronic hero originated from the archetypal eighteenth-century “man of feeling,” Lord Byron.[4] The protagonists, Heathcliff and Erik, both exercise a number of these traits in their physical appearances, manner and relationships with other characters as well as in the settings that are associated with them. Conversely, some may argue that they take on the role of a Gothic antagonist, particularly Erik, and therefore is presented as a Satanic Hero through his actions and appearance.

Whilst Brontë illustrated Heathcliff with the physical appearance of a Byronic Hero, Erik, one may argue, is given the appearance of a gothic antagonist by Leroux. Erik’s “strange, wan and fantastic face” is...

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