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Phantoms are a type of undead. In common understanding, phantoms are either synonymous with ghosts or a specific kind of ghost and the term is regularly used to refer to ghostly objects, vehicles in particular. In Monster High, phantoms too are a type of ghost, although a conclusive definition is lacking. The two recurring traits are reclusiveness and disfigurement, though. The phantoms are among the types of ghosts who gain matter in the Monster World while they are intangible in the Ghost World, where most ghosts live.
"Phantom" descends from the Ancient Greek word "φάντασμα" ("phántasma"), which can be translated as "apparition", "vision", "dream", and "fantasy". It comes from the verb "φαίνειν" ("phaínein"), which meaning comes down to "to (visually) make the presence known of".
The word appeared in the English language around 1300 as synonym for "apparition", "vision", "dream", and "fantasy". It became a synonym for "ghost" one to two centuries later, differing at most in meaning in that "ghost" refers to content and "phantom" refers to the perception of content. The meaning of "something having the form, but not the substance, of a real thing" is from the early 18th century, following from the same mindset change that also affected the meaning of "simulacrum".
- Main article: Ghosts
Phantoms are either synonymous with ghosts or a variation of wavering definition. Whenever an apparition is an object, "phantom" is the only term used other than "ghost" for such a sight, like "ghost/phantom ship", "ghost/phantom train", and "ghost/phantom carriage".
The Phantom of the Opera
In 1894, Harper's Magazine serialization began of Trilby, which would be released in novel form a year later. The novel is by George du Maurier and tells, among others, of a woman, Trilby O'Ferrall, who works as a model and laundress in Paris in the 1950s. Her two notable traits are her beautiful feet and her strong voice, but as she is tone-deaf, her singing is awful. Svengali, a German-Polish man with immense skill in hypnotism and of great musical genius, but not gifted with the voice to express his genius, wishes to marry and tutor her, but she only allows him near to help her deal with her headaches through hypnotism. Trilby develops a relationship with Little Billee, an English artist of a wealthy family, but his mother disapproves of the relationship and Trilby ends it to avoid trouble for all. She leaves Paris to get away from Little Billee and Svengali follows her, establishing a bond and eventually hypnotizing her into a first class singer, La Svengali, whom he presents as his wife. Trilby's Parisian friends find out about this five years later by coincidence and equally by coincidence, Svengali dies from a heart attack during a performance of Trilby, leaving the girl confused as to why she's on stage and why the audience expects her to sing well. Her friends take her in, but her time with Svengali has taken its toll on her. She is dying, but makes clear that, though she thinks of him as a friend, she never married Svengali and still loves Billee. When she is shown a portrait of Svengali, she falls back in trance and sings until her end. Little Billee dies shortly after from a broken heart, never having forgotten Trilby either.
Trilby was hugely popular in its time and its effect on popular culture continues to this day. Though items like the Trilby toothpaste and Trilby sausage no longer exist, the community in Florida, Trilby, and the trilby hat still do. "Svengali" is still a term used to mean a person long-term dominating, controlling, and extorting another person for their skills, and the phrase "in the altogether" also has its origins in the novel. But of larger influence was its depiction of hypnotism and/or mesmerism. With Trilby, hypnotism became a public fear that also persists up to the present and nearly all use of hypnotism to long-term control another in fiction of younger age takes its cue from Trilby. In fact, current-day alternative means to mind control and mind communication in popular culture or public understanding too ultimately derive from the impact Trilby had. A particular example would be its effect on vampire fiction — Bram Stoker's 1897 Dracula was not the first vampire story to incorporate hypnotism/mesmerism, but the scope of its use in the novel is the result of the panic Trilby created. As well, Svengali is compared in the novel to both a hungry spider and an incubus, and it is theorized Dracula was partially inspired by Svengali after Stoker attended a performance of the 1985-originated stage adaption in London. The two are similar in so far that they are both stereotypes of East European Jewish men with the power to mentally control others and who prey on West European white women.
Du Maurier was not the first to write a story about hypnotism nor the first to write about a prima donna or even a prima donna with two suitors of which one wealthy and the other with a leg in occultism, which earlier was the setup of Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1842. Hypnotism has its roots in animal magnetism, a concept further developed and promoted by Franz Mesmer starting the 1770s. By 1829, it came to be known as "mesmerism" and while the concept had its enthusiasts, it was also considered quackery. James Braid sought to pull the basic idea into the scientific realm and in 1841 he dubbed the new approach "hypnotism", after the Ancient Greek god of sleep. Due to this relation, the difference between mesmerism and hypnotism is ill-defined and scientists at the time could not agree on definitions, causing the larger public to consider the two the same. One way to put it is that mesmerism assumes the existence of energies within the body, that can be manipulated with magnetism and electricity and mastered by a sufficiently adapt mind. This mesmerism-master is then able to influence the energy of others through sheer will channeled through the mesmerist's gaze. Hypnotism is more sound-based and works by suggestion on another who has been brought into a state of pseudo-sleep. Hypnotism explicitly can't make anyone do what they don't want to, but the concept of mesmerism has this as an option in cases of great difference in will power between mesmerist and mesmerized. With the scientific community giving credence to hypnotism, mesmerism shared in popularity. Among others, mesmerism appeared in fiction in 1862's The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix, which Du Maurier provided illustrations for. As for the prima donna, this type of character had been popular for the whole of the 19th century, taking over from the castrato of centuries prior. Like the castrato, the prima donna, while praised for the voice, was considered foremost of deficient gender. Women were not supposed to perform in public or be financially independent, which were respectively associated with sexual liberty and sexual independency and thereby linked the prima donna to the sex worker as had earlier happened to the castrato. This made her a intriguing archetype to explore art but also to keep a hold on the role of women in society. Early 19th century fiction concerns itself largely with "redeeming" the prima donna by having her return to the life of a respectable woman out of the spotlight. From the 1830s to the 1850s, certain change was brought to this connection by Jenny Lind, who by keeping herself to Christian music and spending a lot of her earnings on charity, managed to be both a prima donna and a "good woman". The Little Billee-Trilby-Svengali triangle itself is speculated to take inspiration from the real-life Henry Bishop-Anna Bishop-Nicolas-Charles Bochsa triangle. Anna, an operatic soprano, left her husband and children in 1839 to tour with Bochsa, a harpist and composer who became her manager and lover. It was one of the bigger scandals of its time.
Against this background of hypnotism/mesmerism and the prima donna, coupled with racial fears in Europe as its colonies of the past centuries freed themselves, Trilby could be the success it was. Unlike previous stories involving hypnotism, Trilby was a full novel that did not make a mystery out of hypnotism but introduced it early on and commented on all its aspects in the course of the story. It defined to the public what they should fear. Additionally, it made the victim a "good prima donna", as Trilby's musical career is forced onto her through the use of hypnotism. There are signs of mental mutualism if not identity-fusing between Trilby and Svengali, but he is the one to have initiated the link between them after her rejection and his predatory and parasitic designs dominate the relationship. Such is their relationship that Trilby dies from exhaustion shortly after Svengali's death, though in a way that intentionally and purposefully mimics the "redeeming" deaths from tuberculosis of the female protagonists of 1848's The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas, fils and 1851's Scenes of the Bohemian Life by Henri Murger. Ergo, what made Du Maurier's story stick was the added layer of helplessness hypnotism brought to the damsel-in-distress scenario. Especially the sexual component of that layer caught on, but the active and passive criminal aspects were understood too. The gendered nature of the novel's success becomes clear when considering that Arthur Conan Doyle's 1894 novella The Parasite, which features a woman using her hypnotic control to sexually harass a man, did not garner more interest than earlier stories involving non-sexual use of hypnotism. The Parasite arguably also highlights the racial component of Trilby, as Trilby is white and West European while Svengali is Jewish and East European.
A handful of writers tried their hand at stories more akin to Trilby than merely the use of hypnotism, such as Richard Marsh with his 1898 novel The House of Mystery. In it, the female tragic character, Maud Dorrincourt, the heiress of the Countess of Staines, wishes to become a singer and runs off to make her dream reality. However, she comes under the control of the hypnotist Aaron Lazarus, who takes away her singing voice and makes her assault her fiancé before running off with her. The two are tracked down with the help of Augustus Champnell, Marsh's recurring detective, but Lazarus hypnotically draws out Maud's vitality in retaliation. Prior to being captured, Lazarus falls from a balcony and dies, leaving Maud withered on the brink of death. She sings a final song and dies. Her fiancé, Conrad, who has spent a lot of time with Madeleine Orme, the protagonist who looks like Maud and impersonated her for a while, chooses to marry her following Maud's death. Another novel with evident similarities is The Magician by William Somerset Maugham from 1908. Margaret Dauncey studies art in Paris when she is visited by her fiancé Arthur Burdon and through him comes in contact with Oliver Haddo, a magician. When Burdon angers Haddo, he hypnotizes Dauncey into marrying him and leaves Paris with her. Little by little, her friends come to understand Dauncey did not leave voluntarily with Haddo and that he has intents to murder her for a project of his. Before action can be taken Haddo performs his ritual, using the death to create four monstrous simulacrums. At the end of the novel, Burdon and his group kill him and burn his house and creations. Of the few look-alike stories, however, the only one with fame of its own similar to, and even surpassing, Trilby is The Phantom of the Opera.
The Phantom of the Opera is a novel written by Gaston Leroux and originally published as a serialisation in Le Gaulois starting in 1909 and turned into a novel in 1910. The novel includes five illustrations by André Castaigne. Though promoted by Leroux as based on true events, which ensured better sales, it is not. The story of The Phantom of the Opera is set in Paris, France, but the year is not noted. Most adaptions of the novel specify it to take place in the Late 1870s or 1880s, depending on the adaption, because the main location of the story, the Palais Garnier, was built from 1861 to 1875 and the titular character had at least a few years of history with the building prior to the events of the novel. The Phantom of the story is a man with a deformity that makes him look like a living corpse, which has worked against him all his life. After a youth of acquiring many traits that help him keep others at a distance, he settles as a haunting entity in the Palais Garnier and uses his legend to acquire food and keep certain control of the building, its performances, and its staff. When he meets Christine Daaé, a new singer who sounds terrible but has potential, he sets out to tutor her and obtain her love. Christine has another suitor, though: the wealthy Raoul de Chagny, to whom she returns the feelings. Noticing this, the Phantom grows forceful and resorts to abduction, murder, and blackmail to at least claim her physically, though he has no sexual interest in her. Despite the predicament, Christine feels sorry for the Phantom and, when she accepts to stay with him in return for the lives of Raoul and the opera visitors, embraces her role as the Phantom's wife. She does not shun his affections as everyone else the Phantom has ever known did, starting with his mother, and this moves the Phantom to let her go and marry Raoul. The Phantom dies soon afterwards, having predicted and accepted his end while Christine was with him.
Despite being a highly popular story these days with plenty of adaptions, the novel was not a success initially. By coincidence, Leroux had the opportunity to meet Carl Laemmle, the president of Universal Pictures, when he was on vacation in Paris in 1922. After a comment by Laemmle that he admired the Palais Garnier, Leroux handed him a copy of his novel. Laemmle was sufficiently impressed by the story and its accompanying illustrations that he bought the film rights, with the aim to cast Lon Chaney as the Phantom. The movie was released in 1925 and a moderate success, helping along the development of the Universal Horror series of films. A sequel was planned, to be titled The Return of the Phantom, but because Lon Chaney was unavailable, Universal Pictures settled on a re-issue with sound of The Phantom of the Opera in 1930. Another film adaption was created in 1943, this time with Claude Rains as the Phantom (Chaney died thirteen years prior). While the 1925 took a small amount of liberty with the story, and is generally considered the most faithful adaption of the novel, the 1943 version changes enough that it borders on being a new story altogether. Nonetheless, it made use of the same sets as the 1925 movie version did and it stands out as the only Universal Horror movie to win an Oscar. As with the 1925 version, a sequel was planned. This sequel, The Climax, actually was produced in 1944, but during production it went from a sequel to a story on its own. The Phantom was changed into the character of Dr. Hohner, played by Boris Karloff, a jealous and murderous physician at the Vienna Royal Theatre. Following the success of the 1943 movie as well as the interest generated by the Phantom of the Opera portion of Man of a Thousand Faces in 1957, Universal Pictures intended to create another movie based on the novel. After Universal profited well from the distribution of Dracula for Hammer Films in 1958, the two movie companies arranged for Hammer to create a The Phantom of the Opera movie and for Universal to ditribute it. The Phantom of the Opera came out in 1962 and was less successful than its predecessors. Herbert Lom took on the role of the Phantom, though since the 1962 movie is about as far removed from the novel as the 1943 one, with the setting being the London Opera House in 1900, and the role of the Phantom was split in two, Ian Wilson, who played the Dwarf, arguably also took on the role of the Phantom.
The first musical adaption of The Phantom of the Opera was written and produced by Ken Hill in 1976. It was well-received in England, prompting a revival in 1984, but with new music that was designed to reflect the era of the story. It received positive reviews, but didn't do very well financially. A second revival in 1987, which brought the musical to the United States of America, was a hit once more, after which the musical returned to England and spread to mainland Europe, Asia, and Australia. During its 1984 revival, the musical was performed for a while at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, where Andrew Lloyd Webber saw it. An acquaintance of Hill, Webber approached him for a collaboration on creating a grand scale version of the musical for the West End theatre, but ultimately Webber got on the project alone, resulting in the 1986 musical adaption. It opened on Broadway two years later and has since become the longest running show there, while it is the third longest-running at West End. The 1986 musical is best known for the liberties it takes with the Phantom's appearance, enhancing the sense of mystery and appeal of it by only making half of his face disfigured. Initially, the Phantom was to have the full deformation of the novel, but then it was found that such an appearance would make expression onstage difficult. As a solution, the Phantom's deformity was reduced to half his face so that he would only need to wear half a mask. The deformity in the musical differs per artistic whim of a performance cycle, ranging from "ugly" to corpse-like.
There are many events and stories that can be pointed at as sources of inspiration used by Leroux to write The Phantom of the Opera. There is the aforementioned Trilby, which can be considered the skeleton design for The Phantom of the Opera. Trilby and Christine are both exceptionally kind orphans with the potential to be prima donnas despite their awful singing at first, Raoul and Little Billee are both the wealthy and well-meaning suitors, and the Phantom fuses the roles of Svengali and his assistant Gecko into one entity that is musically gifted, possesses occult Eastern powers, trains the prima donna, and forces her into a pseudo-marriage even though his hideousness repulses her like Svengali, but has a change of heart due to her goodness like Gecko. Christine follows in the gradual destigmatization of the prima donna that 15 year earlier still required Trilby to die. Christine's contextually taken out of the opera scene at the end of the novel to marry into title and money, but she gets to live. On the other hand, the Phantom is a metaphorical castrato and he does not survive. Also, while France-born, if of unrevealed ethnic heritage, the Phantom acquires all of his power but his voice from his association with Romani and West Asians and his one associate is a man not identified better than the Persian, continuing the racialized nature of the aggression towards the prima donna. Arguably, even his voice isn't thoroughly West European, as ventriloquism is of equally great importance as regular speaking to the Phantom and the supernatural way he employs it, notably during Carlotta's performance, is not unlike the way Svengali utilizes his hypnotic powers in Trilby.
The Phantom and Christine also embody the Death and the Maiden motif that developed from the Dance of the Dead late in the 15th century. Death and the Maiden is the contrast of a creature of death, male to enhance the contrast, and one of life, who is a young woman both to represent liveliness on her own and to be able to create life. The motif takes inspiration from younger versions of the Persephone and Hades story in Ancient Greek mythology. In short, Hades, god of the underworld, falls in love with Persephone, daughter of the goddess of harvest and a harvest goddess in her own right, and therefore abducts her to the underworld. Distraught, Demeter refuses to perform the duties left to her, with famine as a result. The other gods agree to get Persephone back, but she has already become bound to the underworld. An arrangement is agreed upon that Persephone will live half the year with her mother, this time becoming Spring and Summer, and half the year with her husband, this time becoming Fall and Winter. This story itself is an adaption of older myths, both Greek and other, that have been altered from a context of female equality as Ancient Greek society grew more misogynist. Similarly, the Death and the Maiden motif, as maintained by male artists, is a predominantly misogynist one. Though a portion of the work is dedicated to the opposite qualities of the two participants, many more examples of it feature Death as sexually aggressive and overpowering. The association of the Phantom with Death is brought up many times, such as in the fact he participated in freak shows as "The Living Death" in his youth, sleeps in a coffin, and dresses up as the Red Death from The Masque of the Red Death, written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1842, for a ball.
Furthermore, the Phantom appears inspired by several tragic male protagonists as created by Victor Hugo, specifically Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831) and Gwynplaine from The Man Who Laughs (1869). All three characters are disfigured, shunned or ridiculed, talented, and operate under a name other than their birthname. All three also are involved with a beautiful woman, to whom they act as protector for a while, but ultimately can't form a couple with. Of the three women, Christine is the only one that doesn't die along with the disfigured man in her life. Universal Pictures also saw the connection in the 1920s, the decade after the end of the golden era of freak shows. Universal even marketed the movies as if they were freak exhibitions, keeping the appearances of Erik and Gwynplaine off the posters as surprise for the paying audience. The three stories make up half of the company's horror movie lineup prior to the introduction of actual monsters in the 1930s. Lon Chaney's performance as Quasimodo got him the role of the Phantom.
In addition to cultural guidelines and literary processes, Leroux knew a lot about the Palais Garnier and worked that knowledge into the novel. For instance, there is the scene in which the Phantom has the chandelier fall into the audience, killing one woman and wounding many. This is based on an event in 1896 during which two counterweights of the chandelier fell down, killing one woman and wounding many. The underground lake that adds much to the atmosphere of The Phantom of the Opera is a creative reinterpretation of the fact that there is a cistern underneath the building, made during the construction period in response to the unexpected high level of groundwater. And the time capsules containing records with music of the era mentioned in the final parts of the novels represent reality as well, their sealing occurring in 1907. They have since been opened in 2007. Leroux in part inserted these facts to bolster his claim in the introduction that the novel is largely historical. Additionally, like Trilby's real-life inspiration is speculated to be Anna Bishop, Christine is speculated to take a cue or two from Christina Nilsson, an operatic soprano who, like Christine, was born in Sweden and in 1860 travelled to Paris to improve her vocal skills.
As a well-known piece of fiction, The Phantom of the Opera has a solid spot in popular culture. Its main two aspects copied, referenced, and parodied most often are the falling chandelier and the villain playing on an organ. The Phantom of the Opera may very well be the first time that a chandelier falling on an unsuspecting target is part of the villain's scheme and in movie adaptions this scene tends to take up a large part of the budget to ensure its impact on the audience. The organ scene, when played as a reference or parody, is usually accompanied by an unmasking of the organ player. The popularity of this scene is due to the iconic presentation of it in the 1925 movie. From the 1962 movie comes the standardization of "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" as the music played on the organ. A third influence is of linguistic nature, because The Phantom of the Opera introduced "phantom" as an alias for a human, which was picked up by later writers and has in particular been employed in the crime and superhero genres, such as with 1911's Fantômas, 1933's The Phantom, and 1936's The Phantom.
Doctor Dolittle is a series of twelve books and three companion books written by Hugh Lofting and a small portion of the eleventh book is done by Olga Michael, his sister-in-law. The books were published from 1920 to 1952. The central character is John Dolittle, a doctor from the fictional Puddleby-on-the-Marsh during the first half of the 19th century, who has been taught several animal languages by his parrot, Polynesia. Dolittle, while kind and considerate, has limited appreciation for the company of other humans and favors animals around him. Most of the humans he considers among his friends are animal lovers too. During the first book, The Story of Doctor Dolittle, also known as The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts, Dolittle becomes a vetinarian after his care for even dangerous animals scares of his human patients. His reputation as a talented and gentle doctor — who could use the money — spreads quickly among the animals of the world and brings him and his human companions all over the world and even to the moon. Dolittle also tries his fortunes with additional jobs, such as circus manager and opera director, to generate income to continue his work.
The Doctor Dolittle books combine entertainment for children with an anti-war message and pro-animal welfare and ecology designs. In 1914, when World War I broke out, Lofting at first worked for the British Ministry of Information, but in 1916, he signed up for the British army and joined the combat situation in France and Flanders. With his children waiting for letters from him, Lofting considered his options. Within the trenches, the boring and the horrific were the only forms of reality, and he did not want to burden his children with that. Lofting had, however, a decent writing career before the war and chose to write his children adventure stories, which he turned into therapy for himself at the same time. The war itself already had a major effect on his emotional well-being, but he also did not like the treatment of war-employed animals, which were killed immediately if they became injured and ceased to be useful. Doctor Dolittle specifically gives up his job as physician to become a veterinarian and puts no racial limits on the people he befriends. Lofting eventually got to go home in 1919 and he returned to writing. His family soon encouraged him to turn the stories he wrote them in the past three years into a book. The Story of Doctor Dolittle was published a year later and was an immediate hit. The success led to the Doctor Dolittle series of books, which turned out to be harder to end than they ever were to start. Originally, the eighth book, Doctor Dolittle in the Moon, was to end the series in 1928, but Lofting conceded to write a ninth book in 1933, Doctor Dolittle's Return. Over a decade later, Lofting revived the series for another book, which would not be published until after his death. The tenth book, Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake, out in 1948, bears the mark of a man that saw World War II happen even after the universally acknowledged horrors of World War I.
As a popular book series in its day and holder of the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, Doctor Dolittle has been adapted in many forms. The first honor was done by Lotte Reiniger, the woman who started the animation industry. She adapted The Story of Doctor Dolittle into a three-part silent movie. The next movie of Doctor Dolittle came out in 1967. Rex Harrison took on the role of Dolittle in a musical story that combines elements from several books. The film was a flop, generally being regarded as lackluster. Another movie adaption followed in 1998 with Dr. Dolittle, which cast Eddie Murphy as the doctor. The plot shares a minimal likeness to the books, but the movie did well enough to spawn four sequels up to 2009. Starting the third movie in 2006, the focus shifted to the movie's younger daughter Maya, played by Kyla Pratt, as the doctor.
Lofting tried his hand only at a few stories outside of Doctor Dolittle, most aimed at a younger audience. Of these Mrs. Tubbs is the only other series, even if it's a series of only two entries. Like Dolittle, the titular Mrs. Tubbs can speak with animals and is on good terms with them. In The Story of Mrs Tubbs, published in 1923, Tubbs, who is a hundred years of age, is kicked out of her farmhouse by her landlord in favor of his nephew. Her companions Peter Punk the dog, Polly Ponk the duck, and Patrick Pink the pig look for ways to get the woman her house back, enlisting the aid of Tommy Squeak, king of water-rats, and Tilly Twitter, queen of swallows, but they don't succeed until a swarm of wasps gets involved. The sequel, Tommy, Tilly, and Mrs. Tubbs, came out 13 years later in 1936. Tubbs again loses her house, this time due to it being blown down during the Summer of the Great Winds, and finds a new roof with the aid of her animal friends and two children. The theme of talking animals is also used in Noisy Nora (1929), in which the titular Nora makes so much noise while chewing that her family sends her to eat with, in order, the servants, the horses, the cows, the pigs, and the rats, but all are grossed out by her bad table manners and get her removed. When finally she is to eat alone in the pasture, having chased off all the small wildlife and even the wind, her own noises become audible to her and she is grossed out by herself. She vows to mind her manners from then on. Outside of animal communication, Lofting also wrote a playful poem collection in 1924, Porridge Poetry, and tried his hand at the fantasy genre with The Twilight of Magic in 1930.
Despite Lofting's intent to contain a message of friendship among humans of all kinds in his books, Doctor Dolittle misses the mark in a few ways. His other works notwithstanding, since they're not nearly as elaborate as Doctor Dolittle, female presence in the Doctor Dolittle books is lacking. Polynesia is the only recurring female character and the only human female character of note is Dolittle's sister, Sarah, who leaves early on in the first book and makes a cameo only once after. Adaptions have tried to amend this with Emma Fairfax as the doctor's love interest in the 1967 movie, Maggie Thompson as apprentice next to Tommy Stubbins in the 1984 The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle anime-cartoon, and the doctor's family, notably daughter Maya, in the 1998-2009 movie series. As well, while Lofting tries to present all characters positively, Bumpo (African) and Long Arrow (Native American) are written extremely stereotypically, which caused the books to lose favor in the 1970s and 1980s after the press highlighted the questionable elements of the franchise in response to the 1967 movie. They became available again in 1988 after a few revisions done with support from Lofting's family.
The Phantom, who also goes by the name Erik, though this is not the name his parents gave him, is born in a small town outside of Rouen, France. Having the misfortune of being born with a severe deformity that gives him a corpse-like appearance from head to toe, he flees his home at a young age because not even his own mother could stand to be near him. He joins a group of Romani and earns his stay as an attraction in freak shows, where he is known as "The Living Death". Though far from ideal, it is a home through which he learns the skills to become an illusionist, magician, and ventriloquist. It is also during these years that he discovers that he is in the possession of an unearthly singing voice. For all this, he is invited to the palace of the Shah of Persia at some point in his adult years by a man not identified better than "the Persian" and "the daroga". He proves himself a talented assassin and a capable architect, but when his life is threatened, he moves on, traveling through Asia Minor and offering his services to the Sultan of Constantinople. The same pay-off as in Persia is the result and Erik returns to France to lead a more peaceful life. He settles in Paris and becomes part of the Palais Garnier construction team. This position allows him to turn the building into his own personal hideout, with many doors and passageways only he knows about. He builds himself a living space in the lake below the Palais Garnier and from then on "haunts" the building, thus earning the title of Phantom of the Opera.
One day, a new singer joins the Paris Opera: Christine Daaé. The Phantom falls in love with her and tries to acquire her for himself, whether by seduction or force. The first time he abducts her to the cellars of the Palais Garnier, his plan is to only keep her for a few days in the hope she will come to love him. However, she unexpectedly takes off his mask and is horrified by his face. Afraid she will leave, the Phantom decides to hold her captive forever, but still agrees to release her after a couple of weeks if she promises to return. Instead of doing that, Christine meets up with her mutual love, Raoul de Chagny, and agrees to run off with him, but not before having sung a final song for the Phantom. The Phantom, however, has spied on Christine and wants revenge for his betrayed trust. He abducts her a second time the following night and tries to force a marriage on her, holding everyone in the building hostage with explosives planted in the cellars. Christine still refuses, so the Phantom reveals that he has captured Raoul (as well as a former friend of his, the Persian, who had agreed to help Raoul) and will murder him if Christine still rejects his marriage proposal. To save Raoul, Christine agrees to be the Phantom's bride and allows him to kiss her. This moves the Phantom greatly because not even his own mother ever allowed him a kiss. For this gesture, as well as a kiss from her, he decides to let Christine go and be with Raoul, on the condition she'll return to bury him when he dies, which occurs only a few weeks later.
The Monster High phantoms are Operetta and both her parents as well as Dr. Boolittle. Mr. Rotter is not confirmed to be a phantom, but since his design is based on Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera from the 1925 movie adaptation, it follows he is one too. Based on Operetta and Rotter, who are the only phantoms with visual presence in Monster High, phantoms can have purple skin, green skin, and blue skin. Both Invisi Billy's New Scaremester diary and River's Haunted - Student Spirits diary state that white skin is also an option.
Not unlike folklore, phantoms in Monster High are part of the overarching ghost collective. They are among the classes of ghosts that are non-physical in the Ghost World, but solid in the Monster World. Both source creatures who are phantoms in Monster High, the Phantom of the Opera and Dr. Boolittle, are humans in the source material, though the Phantom of the Opera has a tradition of being ranked as a monster due to his inclusion in the Universal Horror lineup and the source character of Boolittle goes by the name Dolittle, putting a distance between the two doctors that is open to interpretation. As humans, the Phantom and Doctor Dolittle have in common a pessimistic view on humans and a preference to be away from most of them. As well, both have experience with opera, this being the entire plot of The Phantom of the Opera and the subject of the sixth Doctor Dolittle book, Doctor Dolittle's Caravan. Neither Boolittle nor his non-phantom adopted daughter Jane have opera-affinities, though, leaving the reclusive nature as sole omnipresent state. Operetta, her parents, Dr. Boolittle, and Jane all have a tendency to minimize either their frequency or range of social contact. Rotter does not share this trait, although it was the point of a small running gag in "Ghouls Rule". Both Operetta and Rotter, the only phantoms visually present in Monster High, are disfigured to a degree. As such, disfigurement and reclusiveness appear defining characteristics for phantoms in Monster High.
Operetta was one of the four characters originally designed for Monster High, but during the three-year development period, her role was given to the mummy Cleo de Nile. Operetta was given her first fictional presence in Holt's 'Basic' diary, but didn't make a personal appearance until late in Volume 2 of the cartoon and wasn't fully incorporated until the 'Campus Stroll' line. She, Howleen Wolf, and Jackson Jekyll make up the tail end of the extended starter cast. In Operetta's case, this presumably was done because the Phantom of the Opera is not a monster in the source material and most of its adaptations, meaning Operetta would fit better as a building stone of the franchise than a foundation pillar.
As the primary phantom of the franchise, Operetta is the most thorough representation of the species. She is also one of the most elaborate reworkings of the source creature, the Phantom of the Opera, of the entire cast. An operetta is a form of opera that is lighthearted and contains spoken dialogue between songs, making it close in design to a musical. While Operetta's father is the Phantom of the Opera, she is the Phantom of the Opry. An opry is an establishment that features live country music—from which rockabilly descends—and the term originated as a diminutive form of the word "opera". According to Operetta's student file, Operetta and her parents moved from France to New Orleans, a former French colony, when Operetta was still a little girl. Her father took a job on a riverboat opera house, likely on the Mississippi River, which presumably brought Operetta in contact with Nashville, Tennessee, the "City of Music" where the Grand Ole Opry is located, and rockabilly. These days, the Phantom is a night teacher of Haunted Music at Monster High, after having earlier provided private music lessons for upcoming talent. In the novel, the Phantom also provides voice lessons. Concurrently with his teaching job, he manages his own independent label, Music of the Night, which is a reference to the song of the same name from the 1986 musical adaption.
Design-wise, Operetta is a more aestethically pleasing adaption of the 1986 musical version of the Phantom, which itself is already a more aestethically pleasing adaption of the novel's Phantom. Instead of a half-mask on the right, Operetta wears hers on the left. In most cases, it doesn't hide the scar that covers the left side of her face (and goes down her neck and onto her left arm) at all, but Operetta does not aim for that either. She likes the scar and has augmented it with a tattoo catacombs into her domain similar to how the Phantom made the cellars under the Palais Garnier his.and she does not have reasons to hide her appearance like her father's source character has. Though her own interest in opera music is limited, music and musical performances are important to her and she can play the organ. Singing is a more difficult matter for Operetta, because her voice has three special properties: her screams can break various materials and if she sings live, she either disorients the people listening to her for a long time or she gains mind-control of them. The latter trait fits the culture created by Trilby, which Svengali partially inspired the Phantom. This, as well as the spider theme shared between Operetta and Svengali, is likely a non-deliberate match, though. Alternatively, it is possible Operetta's supernatural voice is inspired by the unearthly voice her father possesses in the source material. She's also a good rower and has made part of the
Operetta's relationship with Johnny Spirit is a twofold reference. Two instruments are associated with the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera: the organ and the violin. Operetta plays the organ and substitutes the violin with a guitar, while Johnny is a skilled violin player. Johnny is based on the song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", which fits the bluegrass genre or more broadly the country genre, on which rockabilly is in part based.
Prior to Operetta, the cartoon introduced Mr. Rotter. He is notably not one of the original teachers as introduced in the Fearbook and does not appear in any fiction but the cartoon with the exception of one dismissive mention in Lagoona's 13 Wishes diary and some presence in A Night in Scare-adise: Prom 2014, yet has grown to be one of the most prominent members of the Monster High staff due to frequent appearances. As aforementioned, he is designed after the Phantom of the Opera as the character appeared in the 1925 movie The Phantom of the Opera. In "Ghouls Rule", he even displayed a preference for using secret passageways like the Phantom of the Opera is known for. He is not the Phantom himself though, who is a separate character but coincidentally also a teacher at Monster High. Along with Where, Rotter is one of the teachers with two Flash models: one with green skin and one with blue skin. The one with blue skin was only used twice, in "Idol Threat" and "Ghostly Gossip", but is also the one the CGI model is based on. The webisodes consistently use the green skin version, so Rotter has two "true" appearances.
Doctor Boolittle entered the franchise late in 2013 with the introduction of Jane. Designed after Doctor Dolittle of Doctor Dolittle fame, he has mastered many animal languages. He is the lead scientist at a research station in an unspecified South American jungle, given that jaguars, ocelots, and sloths are part of the local fauna. His only identified colleague is Doctor Moreau,the Monster High version of Dr. Moreau from the 1896 novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, who in the novel turns animals into human-like creatures. Given that Jane has an English accent, Doctor Boolittle can be assumed to be an Englishman like the source character.
- Jennifer Linforth: Characters as unique as history itself
- The Phantom's Inspiration-- Chaos in the Paris Opera House at The Violin Shop
- Before the Phantom – Literary Influences on Leroux's Novel
- Welcome to the Wonderful World of Hugh Lofting's "Doctor Dolittle"
- Hugh Lofting Facts at Your Dictionary
- What Effects Books can have on Children... at Judy's Ramblings
- Porridge Poetry at CurioBooks
- The Twilight of Magic at GoodReads (reviews)