So, one of the most debated "POTO" topics on the Web: Raoul or Erik, who is better? Who did Christine truly love? Who should she have ended up with?
Well, now I feel inclined to post my opinion, and it is definately contrary to the popular vote. I'm sure that I am one of the very few people who believe that it was a good thing that Christine ended up with Raoul, and not like a "well, it was better for her to leave with Raoul because she had no future with Erik" sort of thing. Here are my reasons why:
The most important reason: "POTO" is at its heart a story of unrequited love. Now before everyone starts jumping down my throat saying it was about WAY more than that, just hear me out. The theme running throughout the center of the story is a story of unrequited love: Erik's love for Christine. The play is a tragedy, no one will argue with me there (unless you hate the phantom and love Raoul, there aren't many of those out there). If Christine had really loved Erik, it would not have been a tragedy. Yes, she did leave with Raoul, but if she loved Erik, he would have known it, and if he had Christine's love, he would die happily. But in reality, he did not have Christine's love, and that is part of the reason why the story is such a tear jerker. You see that Erik does not have a bad soul, he just wanted to be loved for himself, and Christine certainly has a kind enough heart to love him, but she doesn't. "None of us can choose where we will love", right? So, on to the other reasons...
1. Christine loves Raoul, not the Phantom. Like I tried very patiently to explain to my friend Kevin, who insisted that Christine ended up with Raoul for financial stability: "Erik is in her mind. Raoul is in her heart." She was enchanted by the Phantom's music, but was in love with Raoul as a person. He's her first and one true love. She was willing to throw the rest of her life away to save him, and that can't be because she felt "dutiful affection" for him. Also, if Christine loved Erik, she would have stayed wiht him. But she didn't because she wanted to be with Raoul.
2. Raoul loves Christine more wholeheartedly than the Phantom. Again, the attraction on the Phantom's part was based nearly if not completely on Christine's voice. He was all about "Christine, sing!" despite the fact that she was terrified of him. Raoul, on the other hand, cared only about her, her safety, her freedom, her hapiness, etc., and he was obviously ready to die for her.
3. Throughout the whole story, everything Raoul does is for Christine; he risks his life time and again (pulling her from the chandelier, confronting the Phantom at Perros, going down to save her from Erik's lair) to help her, keep her safe. The Phantom did almost everything for his own well-being: taking revenge by killing Buquet, demanding salary from the managers, threatening to kill Raoul in order to make Christine stay with him, etc.
4. Raoul and Christine are just kids! Okay, in the play they are slightly older, but in the book they are both only twenty years old while the Phantom had to be at least fifty. No, I'm not saying "ew, he's old". I'm saying, they were just two children discovering love for the first time and were very innocent, but the Phantom pulled them into his web of darkness which they were not ready for. Christine and Raoul, therefore, were not able to enjoy their first time being in love- instead they had to fight for their love, their freedom, and their life.
5. Pre-possession(?) Raoul had Christine first. They knew each other and had feelings for each other way before the Phantom had met Christine. And the whole part about "he was bound to love you/When he heard you sing" is untrue because he loved her before she became the star of the opera.
6. How could anyone not think that Raoul and Christine are a twosome of cuteness after seeing the "All I Ask Of You" scene on the rooftop? They are obviously very in love and make each other happy. Erik is heartbroken upon hearing the things they say because he knows at that point that Christine loves Raoul and feels betrayed that after all he gave her she still fell in love with someone else. See, even ERIK knows they're in love.
7. I really do not believe that Christine was so shallow that she was unable to look past that fact that Erik was ugly to be with him. If she was that shallow, neither Raoul nor Erik would have loved her as they did. Even after she saw how ugly he was, she still felt sorry for him and called him a friend. So obviously her feelings for him had nothing to do with his face, as Erik (and all the Erik fans) wanted to believe.
8. I quote the Persian: "[Erik] filled Christine's mind, through the terror with which he inspired her, but the dear child's heart belonged wholly to the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny."
9. I para-phrase Andrew Lloyd Webber: "It is really tragic, this story- one of a deformed man in love with a beautiful young opera singer who's already in love with another..."
Enough reasons? Good. So why can't everybody just accept the fact that, yes, the Phantom is a pitiful creature and we ought to feel sorry for him, because creatures experiencing unrequited love are always pitiful, but in reality, Christine does not love him! It had nothing to do with the fact that he was ugly and she was so shallow she could not overlook it. It had to do with the fact that she had no romantic feelings for him. She loves Raoul, and only Raoul. Even reading between the lines will bring up the same conclusion, because believe me, no one reads between the lines better than I do, and I could not pick up anything that said Christine loved Erik more than Raoul. In fact, I did not find anything to lead to the conclusion that Christine loved Erik at all. Any affection she felt for him was a father-daughter, student-teacher type of thing. Remember "Angel or father/Friend or phantom."