The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera Literary Elements


Gothic horror

Setting and Context

Paris, France. Specifically the Opera-house and the catacombs beneath it. The time is not specific, but appears to be 1910.

Narrator and Point of View

There are two narrators in the book: the Persian, who is an old friend of Erik's to the extent that someone like Erik can have friends, and an anonymous limited omniscient narrator who is not a character in the book.

Tone and Mood

The tone is dark and somber. The mood is forbidding with overtones of impending doom.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Christine Daae, a young singer, is the protagonist. Erik, a deformed and malicious genius who lives under the Paris Opera-house, is the antagonist.

Major Conflict

Erik is in love with Christine, who rejects him in favor of Raoul.


Erik kidnaps Christine and imprisons both Raoul and the Persian, threatening to kill them if Christine does not marry him.


The conflict between Raoul and Erik is foreshadowed in the scene on the roof, when the two young lovers see what might be a pair of glowing eyes in the darkness and know they are observed.




The opera Faust, referenced often in the book, is about someone who sells his soul to the Devil.


The image of the mask is key to understanding the book. When Christine makes Erik remove the mask, Erik finally understands what it means to be human and to connect with another person.


The mask is something Erik wears to be able to interact with the world, yet it actually prevents him from connecting with it.


The opera Faust, in which the main character sells his soul to the Devil, is one in which Christine performs as the main female character. The story of Faust's decline parallels Christine's decision to sell her soul--or give it away--to Erik.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The chorus, and the cast, is presented as a collective. So is the audience. Their reaction to Christine's disappearance is described as a group.


To Erik, Christine personifies love and redemption. It is not a coincidence that her name is a variation of "Christ."