Psychological Masks Essay, Research Paper
Everyday, people all over the world are scarred emotionally from as harsh as pure hatred to simple teasing. Young children fall victim to schoolyard bullies and adults suffer for their foolish irresponsible mistakes. Nobody, it seems, is safe. So, how do people cope with this mental attack? Role-playing, also know as psychological masks, help a person develop confidence and self-esteem. Role-playing serves as a fa ade, a falsity so the outside world cannot see the reality that lies underneath. Upon hearing this, one question must be asked. Does the human race really use role-playing to hide their true selves and be accepted into society? The answer to this complex question is explored in Andrew Lloyd Webber s play Phantom of the Opera. It delves into the idea that the human beings wears masks that conform to society s rules to hide their actual selves so that they may continue with everyday life devoid of the fear of being judged by their peers.
The character used to depict the theme of masks in Andrew Lloyd Webber s play Phantom of the Opera is the Phantom of the Opera himself. Horribly scarred emotionally and physically from an accident in his past, the Phantom sought sanctuary in the deepest depths of the opera house where he used to be a musician. It is here that he meant to spend the majority of his remaining years while he finished his life s work: an opera. It wasn t until Christine Daae, a chorus girl, came to the opera house that the Phantom wanted anything to do with the playhouse or the outside world.
Upon hearing Christine sing, the Phantom became mesmerized by her angelic voice and distinguished her as perfect person to perform the lead in his masterpiece opera. To train her voice to a performance level, the Phantom took on the role as the Angel of Music, a spirit Christine s father said he would send her when he was in heaven. When a human being adopts a new role or identity, their behaviors may feel spurious at first, but before long, their behavior no longer feels forced (Myers 647). Furthermore, No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true (648). Consequently, once a person sustains an identity for long enough, they may not be able to tell the difference between which one is real and which one is false. In some cases, though, a person knows the difference, but they don t want to go back to the person they used to be. They have struggled through life s hardships as a nobody, always thinking that it would be better to be a fake somebody, than a real nobody (Mr. Ripley). After playing the Angel of Music for long enough, the Phantom received enough positive reinforcement (attention and acceptance from Christine) that he adopted this new role mentally. The Phantom did not want to go back to the hobbit-like personality he had adopted from all his years in the sub-levels of the playhouse. He became the Angel of Music.
Before his transformation into the Angel of Music, the Phantom lived alone. He did not make appearances in the real world, did not cause any trouble, and really did not want to exist at all. No sooner than his identity took on a new role that his behavior also took on a new role. After a new role is introduced to the psyche, a person will try new behavior patterns in order to find one that suits his or her new personality (Donnally 297). If Christine did not sing, he threatened the playhouse owners. He scared Carlotta (Christine s sole competition for any soprano lead role) to the point where she wouldn t perform. Furthermore, and most extreme, he murdered two men in cold blood. Morally, the Phantom [knew] that [his] actions were against the moral laws [he] originally set for [himself] (298), but the role of the Angel of Music led him to be more confident in himself, causing his ego to inflate, and this overblown ego led the Phantom to actions that he would not morally commit otherwise. He truly became something he was not. No matter what you do, however terrible, however horrible, nobody thinks they re a bad person (Mr. Ripley).
The fundamental purpose of the physical mask was because of the role the Phantom was trying to pass off. Christine could accept a mysterious masked being, but would never accept the Angel of Music as a grotesque horridly scarred man, but it also is symbolic of the deception the Phantom has portrayed upon Christine. Deception is a defensive mask that humans use to cover up something they are embarrassed about. Each time a person lies, another layer of ruse is added to this mask. When one lie is caught, the mask will start to fall apart and eventually the truth will be exposed. At this point, one of two things can happen. The community looks upon this person as a stranger and eventually destroys him or her or the community will embrace him or her thinking that this is the same person they have let into their hearts. The Phantoms true identity is exposed the morning after he lures Christine down to his lair. The whole world began to crumble when Christine rips the mask off his face. Damn You! You little prying Pandora! You little demon is this what you wanted to see (Phantom Soundtrack). His rage lasts momentarily until he asks her to Turn to love you ll learn to find the man behind the monster: this repulsive carcass, who seems a beast (Phantom Soundtrack).
Delusions, a more dramatic psychological mask, impinge on a person s perception of reality. In some cases, people will see things that aren t there, and have false identification of the people around them. In other cases, delusions will have a person thinking things that just aren t true. Here the Phantom has convinced himself that she loves him as much as he loves her and that she will not care about his horrid appearance or the fact that the thing she came to know was not what she thought it was. Under some kind of trance, Christine accepts the ghastly appearance of the Phantom and seems to not care that he is not who he has portrayed himself to be.
Role-playing is a very successful psychological treatment. It allows any human can be virtually anything they want to seem to be. They can be smart, rich or powerful, anything that they think will impress another human and make them seem more interesting than they truly are. Psychological masks are something to hide the shame people feel for something they are or are not. It could be a 70-year-old grandfather telling his grandkids war stories, or a child telling his parents of how he was the bug hero at school that day; it s still all a big fa ade. Nevertheless, people use them to portray their person as following society s standards and rules. Every human wears a mask; whether they know their true self or not is the real question.
Donnally, Chris. Clinical Psychological Treatments. Cleveland: Hannaford Publishers,
Myers, David. Psychology. 6th ed. New York: Worth Publishers, 2000.
Phantom Soundtrack. London Cast. 1987.
The Talented Mr. Ripley. The Talented Mr. Ripley Trailers. 24 Sept. 2000