The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Characters

Major

  • Quasimodo is the male protagonist of the novel. He is the bell-ringer of Notre Dame and a barely verbal and half-blind hunchback. Ringing the church bells has also made him deaf. Abandoned by his mother as a baby, he was adopted by Claude Frollo. Quasimodo's life within the confines of the cathedral and his only two outlets —ringing the bells and his love and devotion for Frollo—are described. He rarely ventures outside the Cathedral because the citizens of Paris despise and shun him for his appearance. The notable occasions when he does leave include taking part in the Festival of Fools—during which he is elected the Pope of Fools due to his perfect hideousness—and his subsequent attempt to kidnap Esmeralda, his rescue of Esmeralda from the gallows, his attempt to bring Phoebus to Esmeralda, and his final abandonment of the cathedral at the end of the novel. It is revealed in the story that the baby Quasimodo was left by the Gypsies in place of Esmeralda, whom they abducted.
  • Esmeralda (born Agnes) is a beautiful 16-year-old Gypsy street dancer who is naturally compassionate and kind. She is the novel's female protagonist. A popular focus of the citizens' attentions, she experiences their changeable attitudes, being first adored as an entertainer, then hated as a witch, before being lauded again by Quasimodo. She is loved by both Quasimodo and Claude Frollo, but, unfortunately she falls hopelessly in love with Captain Phoebus, a handsome soldier whom she believes will rightly protect her but who simply wants to seduce her. She is one of the few characters to show Quasimodo a moment of human kindness, as when she gives him water after the hunchback's flogging. She is eventually revealed to not actually be a gypsy, but to have been kidnapped by them and replaced by the deformed Quasimodo.
  • Claude Frollo, the novel's main antagonist, is the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. His dour attitude and his alchemical experiments have alienated him from the Parisians, who believe him a sorcerer. His parents having died of plague when he was a young man, he is without family save for Quasimodo, for whom he cares, and his dissolute younger brother Jehan, whom he unsuccessfully attempts to reform towards a better life. Frollo's numerous sins include lechery, failed alchemy and other listed vices. His mad attraction to Esmeralda sets off a chain of events, including her attempted abduction, leading to Quasimodo's sentence to be lashed in the square, and Frollo almost murdering Phoebus in a jealous rage, leading to Esmeralda's execution.
  • Pierre Gringoire is a struggling poet. He mistakenly finds his way into the "Court of Miracles", the domain of the Truands. In order to preserve the secrecy, Gringoire must either be killed by hanging, or marry a Gypsy. Although Esmeralda does not love him, and in fact believes him to be a coward rather than a true man, she takes pity on his plight and marries him. But, because she is already in love with Phoebus, much to his disappointment, she will not let him touch her.
  • Phoebus de Chateaupers is the Captain of the King's Archers, and a minor antagonist in the novel. After he saves Esmeralda from abduction, she becomes infatuated with him, and he is intrigued by her. Already betrothed to the beautiful but spiteful Fleur-de-Lys, he wants to lie with Esmeralda nonetheless but is prevented when Frollo stabs him. Phoebus survives, but Esmeralda is taken to be the attempted assassin by all, including Phoebus himself, who no longer wants her. He is condemned to a miserable married life with Fleur-de-Lys.
  • Clopin Trouillefou is the King of Truands. He sentences Gringoire to be hanged, and presides over his "wedding" to Esmeralda. He rallies the Court of Miracles to rescue Esmeralda from Notre Dame after the idea is suggested by Gringoire. He is eventually killed during the attack by the King's soldiers.

Minor

  • Jehan Frollo "du Moulin" (alternately named Joannes Frollo "de Molendino") is Claude Frollo's 16-year-old dissolute younger brother. He is a troublemaker and a student at the university. He is dependent on his brother for money, which he then proceeds to squander on alcohol. After his brother stops giving him money, he becomes rogue. He briefly enters the cathedral by ascending one of the towers with a borrowed ladder, but Quasimodo sees him and throws him down to his death.
  • Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier is a beautiful and wealthy noblewoman engaged to Phoebus. Phoebus's attentions to Esmeralda make her insecure and jealous, and she and her friends respond by treating Esmeralda with contempt and spite. Fleur-de-Lys later neglects to inform Phoebus that Esmeralda has not been executed, which serves to deprive the pair of any further contact—though as Phoebus no longer loves Esmeralda by this time, this does not matter. The novel ends with their wedding.
  • Madame de Gondelaurier is Fleur-de-Lys' mother.
  • Sister Gudule, also known as Sachette and formerly named Paquette Guybertaut "la Chantefleurie", is an anchoress, who lives in seclusion in an exposed cell in central Paris. She is tormented by the loss of her daughter Agnes, whom she believes to have been cannibalised by Gypsies as a baby, and devotes her life to mourning her. Her long-lost daughter turns out to be Esmeralda, a fact she discovers only moments before Esmeralda is hanged. Gudule is accidentally killed by one of the King's soldiers while attempting to prevent them from taking her daughter.
  • Djali is Esmeralda's pet goat. In addition to dancing with Esmeralda, Djali can do tricks for money, such as tell time, spell Phoebus' name, and do impressions of public figures. Later during Esmeralda's trial when Esmeralda is falsely accused of the stabbing of Phoebus, Djali is falsely accused of being the devil in disguise. In the end of the novel, Djali is saved by Gringoire (who has become fond of the goat during his marriage to Esmeralda) after Esmeralda is captured and hanged.
  • Louis XI is the King of France. He appears as an old and sick man, but his personality is very sly and Machiavellian, as well as self-centred. He appears briefly when he is brought the news of the rioting at Notre Dame. He orders his guard to kill the rioters, and also the "witch" Esmeralda, because of being misinformed about the reason of rioting.
  • Tristan l'Hermite is a friend of King Louis XI. He leads the band that goes to capture Esmeralda.
  • Henriet Cousin is the city executioner, who hangs Esmeralda.
  • Florian Barbedienne is the judge who sentences Quasimodo to be tortured. He is also deaf.
  • Jacques Charmolue is Claude Frollo's friend in charge of torturing prisoners. He gets Esmeralda to falsely confess to killing Phoebus. He then has her imprisoned.
  • Jacques Coppenole is a man who appears in the beginning of the novel as one of the Flemish guests at the Feast of Fools. He convinces the Parisians to select the Pope of Fools.
  • Pierrat Torterue is the torturer who tortures Esmeralda after her interrogation. He hurts Esmeralda so badly she falsely confesses, sealing her own fate. He was also the official who administered the savage flogging administered to Quasimodo by Barbedienne.
  • Robin Poussepain is Jehan Frollo's companion who appears with him during the Feast of Fools and Quasimodo's flogging in the public square.
  • Olivier le Mauvais (literally "Olivier the Evil") is King Louis XI's close advisor.

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