In our Writer’s Notebooks this week, we played around with writing our own descriptions of the Phantom’s lair. Drawing upon the noticings and author’s craft lessons from previous units, we each worked to develop a description of the lair that created a strong mood.
Students had full creative license here: their description could reflect any characterization of the Phantom they wanted to work with. Was the Phantom evil, lonely, dangerous, pathetic, mysterious, depressed, romantic, bitter…? The choice was up to the writer.
Each worked to create that chosen mood through a variety of means:
choice of details to include and emphasize
use of imagery and figurative language
use of devices such as repetition and magic three
variety in sentence structure, such as the use of fragments or questions to create tension
choices in paragraphing, such as the use of a dramatic one-sentence paragraph
use of movement in the scene as opposed to description of a static space (the “narrative” part of the descriptive-narrative composition)
Enjoy the work of the following writers. What do YOU notice about the choices each made?
In Phantom of the Opera, Christine’s compassion for the Phantom leads to transformation: the Phantom’s heart softens and he lets Raoul and Christine go free, he himself is set free from his bitterness and hatred, and he escapes the mob after physically transforming himself to elude capture.
Think about other stories you have read or seen in which a character shows compassion for another. How did that compassionate act change a character or move the story in a new direction?Name the story or character and share your observations.
Another way to think about the question is to turn it around: can you think about a story in which the withholding of compassion has turned a character or a story in a different direction from what it might have otherwise gone?
Can these questions apply to nonfiction as well as to fiction? You may answer with a nonfiction example if you prefer.
Write a comment in order to respond to the question, or respond by elaborating on another student’s comment.
Image credit: Phantom of the Opera. Digital image. The Phantom of the Opera Official Website. Cameron Mackintosh, Ltd., 2008. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.
This week we begin our study of Phantom of the Opera, one of Broadway’s most famous musicals. Some of you are already familiar with the play and are fans of the music. Most of you have heard of the story, but you don’t yet know the details. You’re in for a treat!
Every year, students say this is a fun unit, and that’s true. We do have fun! But we also learn a lot. Our study of the plot gives us a better understanding of the terms rising action, internal and external conflict, character motivation, climax, resolution, and theme. We’ll discuss the influence of setting on mood and plot, and we’ll explore the nuances of diction and tone. We’ll debate some difficult questions, and if past years are any indication, a few of us will even be moved to tears.
What musicals have entertained and inspired you? Are there some Broadway songs that you and your family know by heart and can sing without prompting? Share your favorites in the comments!
The Phantom takes Christine down into his lair. He takes her down the haunted hallway. A few candles flicker out their last bit of light. Ancient paintings, unwanted masks and a giant organ filled the lair. The organ started playing and the horrid phantom with the mask starts to sing.
Christine was terrified. The room was painted black and crimson, making her think of blood. She realized she shouldn’t be here, and she was in danger. The Phantom was no longer her Angel of Music, just a man no one has ever cared for.
She realized she was in danger and searched for an escape route. The came across a replica dummy of herself, really giving her the chills. The Phantom mocked her with his wicked laugh. She felt her way through the darkness of the place, desperate to escape free. She ran out to the pond behind the lair, crying for help.
As Raoul came to her rescue, she would never forget the scary memory of being trapped in the Phantom’s lair.
An old and wrinkled figure opens a secret door in the depths of an abandoned opera house. He has not been here in over 80 years, but he plans on making one last visit. It was here that murders were plotted, kidnappings were committed, and a love was lost. This old and wrinkly man was in the center of it. This man is me.
Wooden stairs seem to infinitely extend into the depths below. I walk down them. They creak in protest. Deeper and deeper I go into the hollow cavern that surrounds me. It gets darker and darker. Colder and colder. Slime oozes from the walls. Stalactites hang low. Stalagmites as sharp as knives grow from the ground. They look as if they want to impale some unfortunate passerby. Unlit candles line the walls. Rats scurry. Bats flutter overhead. The creaking wooden steps gradually become limestone step embedded in the cave. I continue my decent.
It gets darker and darker. Colder and colder. Deeper and deeper.
I walk further down. The cruel light that I have known for so long is extinguished. Welcoming dark envelopes me. I walk further down. I reach a hallway. One dull throne is at the end. An organ is next to it. Dust shrouds the organ from view. Cobwebs with spiders run along the corners. I take a seat on the throne. My bony fingers run over intricate carvings on the arm rest. It was expensive for sure. A simple reminder of the wealth I had before I lost everything. Because of Raoul. But now I am back. One last time after 80 years. I will reclaim what was mine and return this cavern to what it was: not a cavern for the bats and rats, but a lair for me.
Part Two: The Lair’s Return
Just as I am about to get off the throne, ominous music begins spreading around the cavern. It fills every corner, nook, and cranny. The organ seems to be playing along with invisible instruments. “There must be invisible instruments,” I think. How else can one explain the sound of violin when it is not visible?
I smile. The lair was waiting for me. It was waiting for me to return. Instead of getting off the throne to start fixing the lair, the lair starts repairing itself for me. I relax on my throne and allow the repairing to begin.
(Play this while reading the rest of the post.)
The dust slides off the organ. The cobwebs disappear. The bats stop fluttering. Rats stop scurrying. Slime stops oozing. The candles light up. The throne I sit on becomes shiny.
A dining table appears. A lake is created in the cold and dark depths of my lair. A single boat is floating aimlessly on it. An ornate bed materializes. A Punjab lasso hanged on a hook. The cavern becomes what is used to be: a lair for me. I am the Phantom.