You Should Be On Team Raoul

 

Still from The Phantom of the Opera 2004 film starring Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler.

Still from The Phantom of the Opera 2004 film starring Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler.

The Phantom of the Opera is one of those beautifully atmospheric novels, and musicals, that enthrals audiences all over the world.

I confess to loving it myself – I’ve read the book more times than I can count and watched the musical, the Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler version, several times.

Recently I stumbled across this clip of Josh Groban (ooh that voice!) and Kelly Clarkson performing “All I Ask of You” from the musical and it got me thinking.

One thing that always struck me about the plot tension was not that it was a love triangle as such, but a power play between love and use.

For me the Phantom embodied use and Raoul love.

Now, the Phantom is a tragic character who never experienced love and so it is little wonder that his ideas are corrupted by a lack of human compassion. He ruled by fear. The real tragedy here is that he was unable to love and thus attempted to construct a version of love through his manipulation of Christine.

This dichotomy is expressed well visually in the 2004 film version of the musical where Gerard Butler’s Phantom is much more vividly painted. His lair is a bold red, sensual feast, a visual metaphor for his affection for Christine, his desire for her and to consume her every waking moment so that she would be his puppet.

His affections, selfish and dripping with personal ambition; a hunger for power and revenge.

Raoul, on the other hand, is a blander character – boring say some.

And that’s probably true.

But I’m beginning to wonder if, as a society, we’re placing a higher value on sensuality and the ‘bad boy’ instead of valuing the blandness of the dependable, chivalrous and selfless heroes like Raoul. And, if so, how does that affect our marriages?

It wouldn’t hurt if hubby was a little more romantic, or spontaneous we complain to ourselves. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be lavished with affection and well, excitement? Wouldn’t it be nice to feel that heady chemistry?

Maybe.

But, then what? How much is enough to satiate your appetite?

And is this the right sort of thing to be focused on in our relationship with our husband?

Is the secular influence permeating into our marriages and causing discontent? And are we gradually being convinced that the solid, stable and self-giving love of our husbands is somehow less because life is well, staid?

Sadly, I think we are.

These thoughts are like the weeds in Jesus parable in the Gospel of Matthew:

24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

(Matthew 13:24-30 NRSV)

The institution of marriage, the sacramental union of man and wife, is under immense attack in our world today. Some of the attacks are obvious, but some are more subtle.

Falling for these artificial ideas of love, valuing the Phantom over Raoul, is a great way to drive a wedge between you and your husband and alter your relationship to one of use.

Real, married love, as we’ve all come to realise, or perhaps knew from the start, is not a romantic high all the time. It’s a conscious and concerted effort to put our spouse before ourselves.

It can be a grinding slog, a battle against our sinful inclinations.

Treasure your Raoul.

Don’t for a moment consider that he loves you less because he’s not as demonstrative as the Phantom – I mean, he was pretty suffocating after all – because sometimes the things he finds romantic are the things we take for granted, like coming home to his wife and children after a day’s work, watching a movie on the couch with his wife after the kids are in bed or, simply praying together.

 

 

Filed Under: FeaturedMarriage

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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