OF THE BABY NAME ERIK
Erik is the titular character of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel, The Phantom of the Opera (which, of course, has had many incarnations in other novels, in films and in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical of the same name). Erik has been born with a cruel and hideous deformity. As a young boy, he runs away from his family and joins a freak show, where he develops into a master magician and ventriloquist. He is also a musical composer with an unearthly beautiful voice – and – in addition to all this - a side talent for architecture. His fame spreads to Persia, and the Shah sends for him and bids him to build an elaborate palace for him. So pleased is the Shah by the result that he orders Erik’s execution so that he may never build another for anyone else. Erik escapes and makes his way to France, where he works on the construction of the Paris Opera House, managing to build secret chambers and passageways for himself. It is here where he falls in love with the beautiful singer Christine Daae. She, hearing him from outside her dressing room, thinks she is hearing the “Angel of Music” her father had told her about, and grows into an accomplished singer under his tutelage. All this while, she is rekindling a relationship with a childhood friend, the handsome and wealthy Raoul, Viscount of Chagny. Erik kidnaps Christine in the hopes that she will come to love him, and she is beginning to have feelings for him when she unmasks him and sees him in his true state. Erik is jealous and humiliated, but he allows Christine to go, after she had, in fact, agreed to marry him in order to save her beloved Raoul. All the Phantom asks is that Christine bury him when he dies. She gives him his first kiss, and her promise, and she fulfills this promise three weeks later when Erik dies of a broken heart. Though he is a tortured soul, whose self-loathing has rendered him capable of deceptions and murders, our poor Erik is also a victim of Fate’s random arrows. In the end, he rises above his baser self and allows Christine to leave and his other intended victims to live. There is nothing left for him but to die. If all of this is just too much to take on for a name for a little child – rest assured. In the novel, we are told, “Erik” is not the Phantom’s real birth name, but one assumed later.