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Written by Timothy Sexton
One of the most recognizable, pitiable, misunderstood and interpreted characters in the history of literature, Quasimodo is the titular character of Victor Hugo’s novel. But just how well do people really know this famous character? That he is a physically malformed creature who swings nimbly high on the precipices of the cathedral and is charged with ringing bells is about as far as most people go. How many are aware that Quasimodo has been driven deaf by the earsplitting reverberations resulting from tintinnabulation of the bells inside Notre Dame? And how many realize that he received his most unusual name as a result of being abandoned as an infant at Notre Dame on Quasimodo Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter?
Quasimodo’s benefactor and Archdeacon of Notre Dame. Frollo is a particularly idiosyncratic fallen priest; where once he was the very portrait of sacred belief, he has since lapsed into the dark arts of alchemy and necromancy. He also a lusty thirst for Esmeralda which cannot go unquenched, regardless of the consequences.
Ah, sweet, beautiful enchanting Esmeralda. She possesses exotic beauty, a goat, and an amulet she believes is key to rediscovering her long-lost family. She is rescued from being kidnapped by virile Captain Phoebus and her attraction to her rescue directly leads to a set of circumstances in which Archdeacon Frollo stabs Phoebus, but Esmeralda is blamed. Lovely Catholic-style torture frees her tongue and succeeds only in receiving a death sentence for a crime she did not commit. Her friendship with Quasimodo leads to her seeking sanctuary inside Notre Dame.
Phoebus is basically an upstanding and honorable officer which helps him win the love of the innocent Esmeraldo. Phoebus is a bit of an innocent as well and that causes him to make one single very tragic mistake. Following his rescue of Esmeralda from her kidnappers, he confesses to Frollo the time and place of his secret rendezvous with the beautiful Gypsy girl.
Gringoire is a staring poet who becomes yet another addition to the growing list of men who fall under the enchanting spell of Esmeralda’s bewitching combination of innocence and beauty. Only Esmeralda’s agreement to marry him saves Gringoire from the fatal conclusion of his own kidnapping episode. The marriage never takes place, however, and Gringoire later become an accomplice in Frollo’s plot to entice Esmeralda from the security of sanctuary behind the church doors.
Charmolue is the attorney representing the crown in the Ecclesiastical Court. This court plays a central role in the narrative as a result of Esmeralda’s being accused of witchcraft. Proving once again that when all other evidence of a criminal offense being committed by a woman during the Dark Ages failed, the Church prosecutors could always be counted on to resort to witchcraft as a means of getting the verdict they desired.
Following the attack of Notre Dame by a mob riled up right good, Esmeralda temporarily finds shelter from the citywide search for being conducted by soldiers belonging to the company Captain Phoebus commanded with a dark, dank cell occupied by a woman seemingly gone mad. Following the theft of her daughter Agnes by a band of Gypsies fifteen years earlier, Gudule is indeed on the verge of utter madness. Momentary solace is brought to Gudule by the revelation that the young girl hiding out in her cell happens to be none other than her long-lost daughter Agnes.
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