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Phantom of the Opera and The Picture of Dorian Gray: Comparative Analysis

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Both Schumacher and Wilde have uniquely crafted their texts, portraying the overwhelming obsession that the respective eponymous protagonists, The Phantom of the Opera and Dorian Gray, face throughout the film and novel. Both texts delve deep into the wild and unruly minds of the protagonists through the use of camera angles, character interaction, imagery, symbolism, costuming, setting, soundtrack, and narrative structure. These stylistic features are important for both the film and novel, where they provide an insight into the minds of the protagonists, revealing what lies behind the damaged exterior of the Phantom of the Opera and the beautiful looks of Dorian Gray.

Schumacher and Wilde, through their respective soundtrack and strong visual imagery, explore the corrupting power that desire and obsession have over the protagonists. Schumacher presents the Phantom as a disfigured and obsessive musical genius, highlighting his inappropriate obsession when he falls intensely in love with Christene, an up-and-coming opera singer. This is evident in the song The Angel of Music, where he [The Phantom] calls me [Christene] softly/somewhere inside hiding displayed through an uncomfortably long eye-level shot of Christene on the floor of her dressing room with a fellow dancer's eyes wandering around the room searching for the mysterious angel of music. Likewise, Wilde portrays Dorian in a similar light to the Phantom, through the dialogue with Lord Henry who holds a great deal of power over Dorian’s mind and soul, pronouncing that when your youth goes, your beauty will go with it, making clear the influence that Lord Henry's value of beauty has over Dorian, leading to the consequential turning of his soul. Despite the pressure of obsession over Phantom and Dorian, the authors convey their protagonists as catalysts in their journeys, as they seduce and manipulate further whilst their obsessions consume them. From the beginning of the novel, Dorian identifies his beauty as his only worthwhile quality, and when he finally sees the portrait his thoughts shift from grateful to pessimistic, I am jealous… why should it keep what I must lose, “it” being the portrait that Basil his dear friend had painted for him, displaying that his mind has become corrupt from the influence of those surrounding him. Schumacher, corresponding with the obsessive nature of the protagonist, utilizes The Music of the Night, to open up [Christene’s] mind and let your fantasies unwind, ensuring that Christene is hypnotized by his voice. This is emphasized in a close-up shot of Christene, with her eyes glossed over, revealing that only then can you belong to me, leading to her capture and the trigger for the approaching atrocious events. Wilde and Schumacher’s protagonists, both lose their status within their societies that have shamed them and forced misleading ideologies, diminishing the ultimate difference between love and lust.

Both authors explore the obsessive nature of each protagonist through the use of mise-en-scene and symbolism, highlighting the web of obsession they fall into. Wilde utilizes dialogue throughout his novel, evident through Dorian confiding his love for Sybil to Lord Henry, pronouncing his love is overwhelming and perplexing to him and he is unable to let himself fully commit to Sybil as he has Lord Henry convincing him that Love is an Illusion which only escalates Dorian's confusion. Comparatively in Schumacher’s film the Phantom gives Christine a red rose on the rooftop, as a symbol of his love and overwhelming desire for her, however, later in the film, Christene drops the rose when she chooses Raul over the Phantom, and to him, it becomes a mere symbol of the thorn of rejection. In contrast with Dorian’s dismissive understanding of love, Phantom becomes increasingly obsessed and begins stalking Christine, where both authors explore the contrasting love that they possess through characterization and inner dialogue. The Phantom begins watching her [Christene], influencing her, invading her privacy, and pushing boundaries, ultimately becoming the definition of obsessed, by pushing the boundaries between love and lust, showing the audience his indecision and the lengths he is willing to go to secure what and who he desires. The confusion that Dorian possesses between love and lust holds influential power over his thought processing and Wilde shows that He was infatuated with her beauty and art rather than her, the lines of love and lust were blurred and once Sybil lost her art, he pushed his love aside and ultimately dismissed her completely. Wilde and Schumacher’s characters, both respectively lose their status within their societies that have shamed them and forced misleading ideologies, diminishing the ultimate difference between love and lust.

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Both Wilde and Schumacher employ setting and mise en scene respectively to explore the extreme depravity of the protagonist's actions to satiate their consuming desires. The Opium dens are framed in Wildes’ text through haunting visual imagery of twisted limbs, gaping mouths, and the moon hanging low in the sky like a yellow skull creating a depiction of the intoxicating dens of horror and the corruption that the drugs had over Dorian’s soul. The Phantom’s desire for Christine is highlighted through mise en scene when he captures her from her dressing room under the darkness of shadows, a close-up shot reveals Christene under a hypnotic trance as she gazes at the Phantom through the mirror- eyes glossed over and open wide seduced by his voice and reflection. Throughout the destruction both of the protagonists are creating within their worlds, the previously haunting scenes become exceptionally appalling after the upcoming inhuman events performed by them to acquire what they desire. Gerard Butler the actor who portrays the Phantom through stylized acting reveals the Phantom losing part of his humanity, as his lust for Christene consumes his mind and the use of point of view shots as he attempts to murder Raul for loving her, although he never succeeds the cruel actions outweigh the good intentions he believes behind that he had every intention to commit. Dorian takes an extra measure as he turns to kill Basil his closest companion as an uncontrollable feeling of hatred for him arises, to assert his authority he allows his obsession with beauty to possess him to the fullest evil as he plunges a knife into a large vein behind Basil's ear, solidifying his lack of hesitation to harm his old friend in order to fulfill his desires. Within these settings, both Wilde and Schumacher specify the overwhelming obsessive natures of their protagonists, whose lives are invaded by their consuming desires.

Through narrative structure, both authors highlight that not only does obsession destroy their humanity, but also communicate how obsession affected the lives of their protagonists. By the conclusion of Wilde’s novel, Dorian has lost everything: his relationship, family, and friends, which proves to be his undoing, and by destroying the painting, he unwillingly destroys his life, echoing that of the Phantom. Through dialogue, the Phantom realizes that he cannot win her over by force and gives up his relationship with Christine to Take the boat, allowing her to go and be with Raoul, but not without warning, swear to me, never to tell. Comparatively, both Dorian and Phantom have destroyed what was left of their souls by taking the final action of their obsessive desires, and in turn, both texts conclude with sorrowful and melancholy tones. Differently to Wilde, Schumacher has the Phantom retreat to the shadows and never seen again, which is established in the final scene, where Meg Giry, a fellow dancer of Christene, is revealed by a close-up shot of her picking up his mask and he is nowhere to be seen. Likewise Dorian wants to rid himself of his sins, blaming the portrait for his weakness, so he stabs the hideous portrait as if It would kill this monstrous soul-life, and unknowingly kills himself, shocking the audience as in the final chapters he was attempting to improve himself. Both Schumacher and Wilde’s protagonists recognize the senselessness of their actions and correspondingly withdraw from their societies in extreme ways, although not in their desired ways, highlighting the extent to which the protagonists will go to fulfill their personal desires.

Both Wilde and Schumacher illustrate their protagonists in life-changing situations and environments and the ultimate effect it has on them. Each text develops the idea of the significance of obsession and the extent to which the protagonists will go to fulfill their personal desires. In addition, both authors incorporate the psychological needs of personal gain, exploring the different dark sides of humanity. This positions the audience to question the turn of events affecting life decisions and the impact that obsession has over one's mind and actions, how far one will go to obtain what one desires.

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Phantom of the Opera and The Picture of Dorian Gray: Comparative Analysis. (2023, April 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
“Phantom of the Opera and The Picture of Dorian Gray: Comparative Analysis.” Edubirdie, 21 Apr. 2023,
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