Writing Wednesday: The Phantom and Madame Giry

Madame Giry is one character who had a big influence on my Phantom retelling.  In most versions, including mine, she knows a little more than most about the Phantom, and may have some level of sympathy for him.  That was part of what led me to wonder about the story told from the point of view of her daughter Meg.

After that initial spark, though, Madame Giry became a supporting character in my actual story–although I think a powerful presence.  What I don’t actually have much of is Madame Giry and the Phantom together.  If I ever write a fourth book, one reason will be because I’m curious to explore the two of them.

But they do have a scene together near the beginning of Book Two that is one of my favorites.  The Phantom has taken a first tentative step towards a friendship with Meg, and Madame Giry comes into Box Five to make sure he fully understands that he’d better not step out of line.  Here’s just a bit of it.


“You spoke with my daughter after Saturday’s performance.”

Of course.  What else could this be about?  “And you want me to stop,” he said, resigned.  Why should anything even faintly positive stay in his life?  But really, what did it matter?  “Very well, I won’t bother her further and—”

“My daughter is a grown woman, and the days when I could control whom she could and could not see have passed,” Madame Giry interrupted, voice stern.  “I will not claim to be pleased about this, but I am not in a position to forbid you to speak with her.”

That made no sense at all.  “Then why did you want to talk to me?”

Her voice had a dark timbre to it, resounding, confident, not a spark of lightness to leaven its intensity.  “I wanted to tell you that if you ever hurt my daughter, I will kill you.”

Erik’s hands tightened on the velvet of the seat arms.  “Are you threatening me, Madame Giry?”

“If you have to ask the question, I have not been clear enough.  If you ever, in any way, harm my daughter—”

“Do you know what happens to people who threaten me?”

“Do you know what happens to people who hurt my daughter?”

It was less the words and more the tone, the absolute, unyielding hardness backing those words up.  He knew how to put steel into his voice, but this woman had diamonds in hers.

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