The Phantom’s Birthday

Those Phans who have delved deeper into the tale of The Phantom of the Opera by reading Gaston Leroux’s original novel, Susan Kay’s retelling or countless other retellings have probably discovered the fact that Erik, the infamous Phantom of the Opera, never knew his birthday. Although he had a general idea of his age, he never knew the actual date of his birth since it wasn’t an event that his parents chose to celebrate. Believing him to be some sort of demon or monster, they chose to cover his face with a burlap sack and pretend that he didn’t exist rather than acknowledge his existence–much less his birthday.

Although the specifics of Erik’s life leading up to the time he came to live in the bowels of the Paris Opera House are highly debatable and varied (depending upon which book you read), a general consensus among authors seems to be that among all the other basic human rights that the Phantom was denied, knowing the date of his birth was one.

In light of this fact, as I stumbled across an image that depicted the old English nursery rhyme, Monday’s Child, I couldn’t help but think of our poor Erik. Although the text consists of a silly little poem that most of us have heard recited at some point in our lives, and I don’t put much stock in such superstition, I thought it’d be interesting to indulge the fancy for the sake of deriving some sort of birth date for our beloved Erik.

First, let’s look at the rhyme as a whole, and then we’ll break it down into sections:

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go.
Friday’s child works hard for a living,
Saturday’s child is loving and giving,
and the child that is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Monday’s Child

Monday’s child is fair of face

Monday’s child is supposedly “fair of face,” so if we’re trying to determine the day of Erik’s birth based upon this poem (which we are for the sake of this article), then we can already eliminate Monday since the Phantom certainly wasn’t “fair of face.” Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I believe that we can all agree that the Phantom wasn’t beautiful in the traditional sense of the word, so moving on…

Tuesday’s Child

Tuesday’s child is full of grace

This one has possibilities since the Phantom was known for his graceful, feline movements. The unfurling of his hand, the way he seemed to glide with cat-like grace and the way each of his movements seemed to be in tune with a symphony of his own are all evidence of his gracefulness in the physical sense.

However, the term “grace” has two definitions. The first (which we’ve already discussed) refers to an elegance or refinement of movement. The second, as defined by Oxford Dictionaries refers to having God’s favor, which can be seen through the bestowal of blessings.

While initially we might discount Tuesday when we learn of the second definition, if we delve further, it, too, can apply to the Phantom. Although the Phantom was born with a disfigurement, he was also bestowed with certain blessings that others don’t have, such as his musical genius, superior intellect and general capacity for skill in numerous areas. Therefore, Tuesday could be a contender for the day of the week upon which the Phantom was born. Moving on, though…

Wednesday’s Child

Wednesday’s child is full of woe

This one is pretty self-explanatory, and I think all Phans would agree that Wednesday is definitely a possibility for the day of the week that Erik was born on since the Phantom’s day were certainly full of woe. Not only was he abused and neglected as a child, but he was shunned from society and denied human kindness. Forced into exile, he resided alone in the underground of the Paris Opera House. His life consisted of murder, stealth and all other manner of sin just to survive, and when he finally did find love in his protegee, Christine Daae, that love was unrequited when she chose to leave with the Vicomte de Chagny instead of staying with him. Yes, I think we can all certainly agree that the Phantom’s days were full of woe..

Thursday’s Child

Thursday’s child has far to go

This one is a bit tricky since “far to go” can have both positive and negative connotations. In the traditional sense, “far to go” generally meant that one would have a long, successful life without limitations. However, a more modern definition of “far to go” points to the likelihood that one will have many obstacles to overcome on his or her journey.

Depending upon which definition you choose to reference, I believe that Thursday could fit the Phantom as well. Erik’s numerous scores and musical compositions would certainly attest to his success as a composer, artist and musician. However, that success is not without limitations since no one could ever hear them.

In reference to the second definition, the Phantom definitely had his share of obstacles. I daresay he had many more than the average person throughout his lifetime.

Friday’s Child

Friday’s child is loving and giving

This is another one that depends upon one’s perception of Erik. As far as the rest of society was concerned, Erik was not loving and giving to the human race that had never shown him any compassion. However, to Christine, he was more than willing to love and give her anything that her heart desired. Therefore, there is a slight possibility that he could have been born on a Friday.

Saturday’s Child

Saturday’s child works hard for a living

This is another one that is pretty self-explanatory, but the question is, Did Erik work hard for a living? I am inclined to say no. Although I’m sure it was difficult to get all the provisions that he needed down in the depths of the Opera House, the Phantom did not work for his pay. Instead, he extorted money from the managers of the Opera Populaire, which I suppose could be hard work since he had to keep up his Opera Ghost persona, but for the sake of what I believe “works hard for a living” to mean in this context, I’ll still say that no, the Phantom did not work hard for a living.

Sunday’s Child

and the child that is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Like Monday, I believe that we can eliminate Sunday from the possibilities for the day of the week upon which Erik was born. “Bonny and blithe, and good and gay” do not, in any sense, describe the Phantom. Instead, he was said to be quite moody, ill-tempered and very rarely good or gay.

Verdict

So what day of the week was the Phantom of the Opera born on? After evaluating the possible meanings of each day of the week via this well-known nursery rhyme, I’m inclined to say that Erik was born on a Wednesday. Although I believe that aspects of Tuesday’s child and Thursday’s child can apply to him, I feel that Wednesday most aptly sums up the Phantom’s days.

What do you think? What day of the week do you believe the Phantom of the Opera could have been born on? As always, please feel free to comment your thoughts below, and cast your vote for which day you believe Erik was born on by taking the poll below.

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4 thoughts on “The Phantom’s Birthday

  1. I have had a hard time with this idea myself. I would go with Wednesday, I suppose for the obvious reasons.

    Now to the question, what month and day? There is no indication of that in the novel, only a very bland and general idea of a year, that you have to figure yourself at that.

    Webber and others managed to lessen the age gap between Erik and Christine, which for me, my opinion on that is still out, I can see why it was done for commercial success for the stage version of Webber’s and others. It just takes away from the feeling I think.

    Back to the idea though. Somehow I always thought it was sometime in the summer, just when I think of it, its in the summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your response! I, too, agree with you. When pressed to choose, I believe Erik was born on a Wednesday as well.

      You are very right that it’s much more difficult to determine the month and day. I daresay it’s impossible since there’s never any indication given.

      It’s interesting how everyone has different ideas of when he was born. I don’t know why, but I always picture him being born in the winter. I suppose since his days were always so full of strife, I just assumed that he would have been born during the most difficult season as well, which is typically winter.

      As far as the age difference, I think (if I’m not mistaken) that in Leroux’s original novel Christine is projected to be in the vicinity of 16 years old while Erik is 50, meaning that they have a 34 year age gap between them. I understand why they lessened that age gap for film and stage production purposes to avoid the taboo of such a large age gap between couples. However, as someone who was once married to a man 34 years her senior, large age gaps in couples don’t bother me as long as the love is there. 🙂

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  2. I would like to say Tuesday, but the apparent elements point toward Wednesday. Now, here is the question, had Erik was born differently, without his supposed “curses” and “flaws”, would things have ended up differently? would all the griefs and even twisted thoughts be prevented from budding inside his mind? with his gifts and even gentle personality at times towards Christine, I can’t help but think that he might be born on other days, namely Tuesday and even Friday. Those grace and caring personalities were his deep, hidden, innate nature. Sadly, those qualities could have been altered or shoved inside a chest inside his heart and he didn’t want to unlock it, all due to his parents’ abuse and mistreatment.

    Great idea for a discussion 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your response! I quite agree! My heart yearns to say Tuesday, but my logical side errs towards Wednesday.

      Great points that you you bring up too. I believe that Erik’s future would have been drastically different had he been born without his disfigurement. In fact, his life probably would have been amazing considering all the talents that he’d been gifted with. Erik was, in short, a genius with skills far above those of an average man, and had it not been for his disfigured face, I believe he’d have went very far in life.

      Liked by 1 person

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