cover image of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

by Victor Hugo Author · Andrew Sachs Narrator


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From the towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral, Quasimodo, the hunchback, looks down on the turmoil of Paris with a bitter eye. He is an outsider, tormented and derided because he is deformed and as ugly as a gargoyle. But love for the beautiful Esmeralda, a gypsy dancer, draws him fatally from the safety of isolation into the web of city life. Canon Frollo, the austere priest, is also utterly changed by his obsession with the enchanting girl. The fates of these three characters are inextricably locked together, with terrible consequences for all. 1. THE FOOL'S POPE. It is Twelfth Night, and Paris is celebrating with a play by the poet, Gringoire. It is interrupted by demands for the election of a Fools' Pope. Quasimodo, a grotesquely hunchbacked bell-ringer, is crowned. He enters the Place de Grève as mock-pope but Claude Frollo, archdeacon of Notre-Dame, interrupts and leads Quasimodo away. The crowd then watches Esmeralda, a gypsy dancer. She is later attacked by two men. Captain Phoebus rescues her and arrests Quasimodo, apparently one of the attackers, but the other escapes. 2. AN OUTCAST. Medieval Paris is dominated by Notre-Dame Cathedral, and to Quasimodo it is his whole world. Fifteen years earlier, as a deformed child, he was abandoned in the church and adopted by a young priest, Claude Frollo. One-eyed and hump-backed, Quasimodo grew up to become a bell-ringer but the noise of the bells ruins his hearing and he becomes deaf. He fears all humanity except Frollo. 3. PUNISHMENT. Quasimodo is sentenced to a public whipping for assaulting Esmeralda. He is beaten and tied to the pillory to be mocked. His desperate cries for water bring only laughter, until the crowd parts to let a gypsy girl approach. Recognizing her as Esmeralda, Quasimodo expects her to taunt him, but instead she gives him water. He loses his heart to her. Captain Phoebus visits his rich fiancée Fleur-de-Lys in a house that overlooks the square where Esmeralda is dancing with her goat. Phoebus invites the gypsy to his fiancée's apartment, but her warm response to the Captain's questions meets with disapproval from Fleur-de Lys' mother. When her goat marks the name PHOEBUS with its hoof, Fleur-de-Lys is upset and Esmeralda leaves. Phoebus follows her. 4. EXTREME EMOTIONS. Frollo is tormented by thoughts of Esmeralda, while Quasimodo is subdued after his whipping. Frollo overhears Phoebus talking about a future meeting with a gypsy girl. He lends Phoebus money, in return for hiding in a closet to watch Phoebus with Esmeralda. Quivering with emotion, Frollo sees Esmeralda enter the room with Phoebus. She is totally in love with him, whilst he merely lusts after her. However, before Phoebus can seduce her, Frollo stabs him. Frollo flees, leaving Esmeralda fainting in Phoebus's blood, to be accused of murder. 5. THE ELEVENTH HOUR. Esmeralda is thrown into prison for murdering Phoebus. There, she is visited by Frollo, who says he loves her. She can think only of Phoebus and repels his advances. Phoebus, however, is not dead and is visiting Fleur-de-Lys. Together they watch the preparations for an impending execution. Phoebus recognizes the victim as Esmeralda, whom he has forgotten. She sees him and calls out, before fainting in shock. She is on her way to the gallows when Quasimodo swoops down to carry her into the cathedral. 6. SANCTUARY. Esmeralda, bewildered, is laid in the sanctuary, in a tiny chamber under the flying buttresses of the roof of Notre-Dame by Quasimodo. He cuts her bonds and warns her not to leave the cathedral at any time. Next morning, she shudders at the ugliness of his face, and he retreats. She overcomes her repugnance and persuades him to return. She learns of his deafness and that he...

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Copyright Group
Word Of Mouth
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The Hunchback of Notre Dame
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