Man's Eternal Search For Affection Explored In The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

856 words - 3 pages

Victor Hugo penned a fantastic, picturesque story of passion and the human spirit in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The dramatic emotions of the characters play out on the stage of fifteenth century Paris, France. Quasimodo, a repugnant physical defect of nature, lived severed from human contact, excepting that of the solemnly aloof priest, Claude Frollo. For his part, Frollo strove for knowledge until he encountered the captivatingly gorgeous gypsy dancer, Esmeralda. She existed solely to adore an arrogant captain of the King's Archers, named Phoebus de Chateaupers, for saving her from being kidnapped. Enticed by Esmeralda's dancing to the depths of his being, Frollo outwardly denounced her as a sacrilegious sorceress, but his body raged for her out of lust, accounting for his repeated attempts at having her prohibited from dancing near the cathedral, or stolen away. Esmeralda, furiously in love with Phoebus, nearly sacrificed her virtue to gain his heart, before Frollo gravely wounded him. Tortured into confessing witchcraft and condemned to die by a court with church officials, the gypsy enchantress obtained sanctuary in Notre Dame cathedral, rescued from the hangman's noose by Quasimodo. At this point, Frollo attempted to claim Esmeralda's merciful and virtuous heartfelt forgiveness for his passion, failing miserably because his efforts appeared feeble and lascivious. Frollo and Esmeralda perished, however, after a storming of the cathedral and gruesome battle, dying sacrifices on the altar of human emotion.

How emotion may exist in a studious and solemn man, having only acquired knowledge of books for a score of years, seems impossible. But desire for Esmeralda arrived after Frollo had “discovered that a man needs affection and that a life without tenderness and love is a dry, creaking wheel” (57). As his fervor for study continued, he became more melancholy until the day he glanced upon the gypsy enchantress, paralyzed with emotion. How such an immovable character transforms into an arduous vulture Hugo explains when he comments with his attuned descriptive imagery, “how furiously the sea of human passions ferments and boils when it is refused any outlet,...how it breaks out in inward sobs and stifled convulsions until it finally breaks down all dikes containing it” (128).

Perhaps the most tortuous passion of the novel, Frollo"s infatuation with Esmeralda contradicts everything he stands for in his role as a priest, namely resisting temptation and sin. This temptation of the flesh contends with his soul and the priestly expectations of the Church. Instead of shunning evil, Frollo loves “the damned” (170), and blames God for his...

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