Sometimes the relation between horrible appearance and horrible personality is explored in a way in which the later is a result of the former.
Personally, I like how it’s done in Phantom of the Opera, in both the book and the film, this is not exactly a case of Heart of Gold inside an ugly outside, yes, he is a genius but he is also manipulative, selfish and indifferent to other’s feelingss. The Phantom does some heavy shit through all the story. However, the author manages to make him a sympathetic figure diving into his point of view.
The life of the Phantom was fill with suffering from the day he was born, as a result of his appearance, so the reason why he was such a monster was that the world never gave a chance to him, and therefore he acted like the world owed something to him. But even if a horrible life is able to explain a horrible behaviour, it doesn’t justify it. It reaches a point where he is so obsessed with the idea of his face being the cause of all his problem that he’s no longer able to see how monstrous are his actions.
As Chistine says “This haunted face holds not horror for me now, it’s in your soul that the true distortion lies”
And at the end, it’s made clear that despite his actions, the Phantom was not a complete monster, but circumstances that were both under and out of his control made him the way he was. Christine was able to recognize the humanity in him, and felt compassion for him. This is when the Phantom really realized how monstruos he was and how he could no longer act like the world owed something to him, he ended up puting the needs of someone else before his own wished, and the story concludes saying that he could have been a great person if the circumstances allowed him that.
Also, I love how compassion is the key that resolves the conflict. My favourite moment in the musical is when Christine, even after realizing that the Phantom was a manipulative person, and after she was able to stand up for herself and not be deceived by him anymore, was still able to saw a glimpse of humanity in him that allowed her to make the decision of forgive him. I’m not going to pretend that the Phantom of the Opera is a story about female empowerment, but it’s still quite remarkable how she goes through a character arc where she is no longer willing to let herself to be manipulated again and she is the one to save the day.
It’s at the end where she says:
“Pitiful creature of darkness,
What kind of life have you known?
God give me courage to show you,
You are not alone…”
and it’s just the most emotional moment for me in the entire musical.