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The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

the hunchback of notre-dame book, the hunchback of notre-dame
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame French: Notre-Dame de Paris is a French Romantic/Gothic novel by Victor Hugo, published in 1831 The original French title refers to Notre Dame Cathedral, on which the story is centered English translator Frederic Shoberl named the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1833 because at the time, Gothic novels were more popular than Romance novels in England1 The story is set in Paris, France in the Late Middle Ages, during the reign of Louis XI


  • 1 Background
  • 2 Plot
  • 3 Characters
  • 4 Major themes
    • 41 Architecture
  • 5 Literary significance and reception
  • 6 Allusions and references
    • 61 Allusions to actual history, geography and current science
    • 62 Allusions in other works
  • 7 Drama adaptations
    • 71 Films
    • 72 Television
    • 73 Theatre
    • 74 Music
    • 75 Musical theatre
    • 76 Ballet
    • 77 Radio
  • 8 Video games
  • 9 Translation history
  • 10 References
    • 101 Notes
    • 102 Bibliography
  • 11 External links


Illustration from
Victor Hugo et son temps 1881

Victor Hugo began writing Notre-Dame de Paris in 1829, largely to make his contemporaries more aware of the value of the Gothic architecture, which was neglected and often destroyed to be replaced by new buildings or defaced by replacement of parts of buildings in a newer style For instance, the medieval stained glass panels of Notre-Dame de Paris had been replaced by white glass to let more light into the church2 This explains the large descriptive sections of the book, which far exceed the requirements of the story A few years earlier, Hugo had already published a paper entitled Guerre aux Démolisseurs War to the Demolishers specifically aimed at saving Paris' medieval architecture3 The agreement with his original publisher, Gosselin, was that the book would be finished that same year, but Hugo was constantly delayed due to the demands of other projects In the summer of 1830, Gosselin demanded that Hugo completes the book by February 1831 Beginning in September 1830, Hugo worked nonstop on the project thereafter The book was finished six months later


Paris, 1482 The gypsy Esmeralda captures the hearts of many men, including those of Captain Phoebus and Pierre Gringoire, but especially Quasimodo and his guardian Archdeacon Claude Frollo Frollo is torn between his obsessive lust for Esmeralda and the rules of the Notre Dame Cathedral He orders bandits to kidnap her, but the hunchback is captured by Phoebus and his guards, who save Esmeralda Pierre, who attempted to help Esmeralda but was knocked out by Quasimodo, is about to be hung by beggars when Esmeralda saves him by agreeing to marry him for four years

The following day, Quasimodo is sentenced to be flogged and turned on the pillory for one hour, followed by another hour's public exposure He calls for water Esmeralda, seeing his thirst, approaches the public stocks and offers him a drink of water It saves him, and she captures his heart

Later, Esmeralda is arrested and charged with the attempted murder of Phoebus, whom Frollo actually attempted to kill in jealousy after seeing him trying to seduce Esmeralda She is sentenced to death by hanging As she is being led to the gallows, Quasimodo swings down by the bell rope of Notre-Dame and carries her off to the cathedral under the law of sanctuary, temporarily protecting her from arrest

Frollo later informs Gringoire that the Court of Parlement has voted to remove Esmeralda's right to the sanctuary so she can no longer seek shelter in the Cathedral and will be taken away to be killed Clopin, the leader of the Gypsies, hears the news from Gringoire and rallies the citizens of Paris to charge the cathedral and rescue Esmeralda

When Quasimodo sees the Gypsies, he assumes they are there to hurt Esmeralda, so he drives them off Likewise, he thinks the King's men want to rescue her, and tries to help them find her She is rescued by Frollo and Gringoire But after yet another failed attempt to win her love, Frollo betrays Esmeralda by handing her to the troops and watches while she is being hanged

When Frollo laughs during Esmeralda's hanging, Quasimodo pushes him from the heights of Notre Dame to his death Quasimodo later goes to Montfaucon, a huge graveyard in Paris where the bodies of the condemned are dumped, where he stays with Esmeralda's dead body until he dies About eighteen months later, the tomb is opened, and the skeletons are found As someone tries to separate them, they crumble to dust


  • Quasimodo, the novel's typical romantic protagonist, is the bell-ringer of Notre Dame and a barely verbal and half-blind hunchback Ringing the church bells has 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 young Gypsy street dancer who is naturally compassionate and kind She is the center of the human drama within the story 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 falls deeply in love with Captain Phoebus, a handsome soldier who 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 abducted by them and to have been 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 spoiled brother Jehan, whom he 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
  • Jehan Frollo is Claude Frollo's 16-year-old over-indulged 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
  • Phoebus de Chateaupers is the Captain of the King's Archers 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 later married to Fleur-de-Lys and is miserable
  • Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier is a beautiful and wealthy socialite 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
  • 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
  • Sister Gudule, formerly named Paquette 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
  • 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 Frollo's friend in charge of torturing prisoners He gets Esmeralda to falsely confess to killing Phoebus He then has her imprisoned
  • Clopin Trouillefou is the King of Truands 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
  • 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

Major themesedit

The novel's original French title, Notre-Dame de Paris, indicates that the cathedral itself is the most significant aspect of the novel, both the main setting and the focus of the story's themes4 The building had fallen into disrepair at the time of writing, which was something Hugo felt strongly about The book portrays the Romantic era as one of the extremes in architecture, passion, and religioncitation needed The theme of determinism fate and destiny, as set up in the preface of the novel through the introduction of the word "ANANKE" is explored, as well as revolution and social strife5


Architecture is a major concern of Hugo's in Notre-Dame de Paris, not just as embodied in the cathedral itself, but as representing throughout Paris and the rest of Europe an artistic genre which, Hugo argued, was about to disappear with the arrival of the printing press Claude Frollo's portentous phrase, ‘Ceci tuera cela’ "This will kill that", as he looks from a printed book to the cathedral building, sums up this thesis, which is expounded on in Book V, chapter 2 Hugo writes that ‘quiconque naissait poète se faisait architecte’ "whoever was born a poet became an architect", arguing that while the written word was heavily censored and difficult to reproduce, architecture was extremely prominent and enjoyed considerable freedom

Il existe à cette époque, pour la pensée écrite en pierre, un privilège tout-à-fait comparable à notre liberté actuelle de la presse C'est la liberté de l'architecture

There exists in this era, for thoughts written in stone, a privilege absolutely comparable to our current freedom of the press It is the freedom of architecture

— Book V, Chapter 2

With the recent introduction of the printing press, it became possible to reproduce one's ideas much more easily on paper, and Hugo considered this period to represent the last flowering of architecture as a great artistic form As with many of his books, Hugo was interested in a time which seemed to him to be on the cusp between two types of society6

The major theme of the third book is that over time the cathedral has been repaired, but the repairs and additions have made the cathedral worse: "And who put the cold, white panes in the place of those windows" and "who substituted for the ancient Gothic altar, splendidly encumbered with shrines and reliquaries, that heavy marble sarcophagus, with angels' heads and clouds" are a few examples of this This chapter also discusses how, after repairs to the cathedral after the French Revolution, there was not a significant style in what was added It seems as if the new architecture is actually now uglier and worse than it was before the repairing

Literary significance and receptionedit

Hugo introduced with this work the concept of the novel as Epic Theatre A giant epic about the history of a whole people, incarnated in the figure of the great cathedral as witness and silent protagonist of that history The whole idea of time and life as an ongoing, organic panorama centered on dozens of characters caught in the middle of that history It is the first novel to have beggars as protagonists

Notre Dame de Paris was the first work of fiction to encompass the whole of life, from the King of France to Paris sewer rats, in a manner later co-opted by Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert and many others, including Charles Dickens The enormous popularity of the book in France spurred the nascent historical preservation movement in that country and strongly encouraged Gothic revival architecture Ultimately it led to major renovations at Notre-Dame in the 19th century led by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc Much of the cathedral's present appearance is a result of this renovation

Allusions and referencesedit

Allusions to actual history, geography and current scienceedit

In The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Victor Hugo makes frequent reference to the architecture of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris He also mentions the invention of the printing press, when the bookmaker near the beginning of the work speaks of "the German pest"

In 2010, British archivist Adrian Glew discovered references to a real-life hunchback who was a foreman of a government sculpting studio in Paris in the 1820s who worked on post-Revolution restorations to the Cathedral7

Allusions in other worksedit

The name Quasimodo has become synonymous with "a courageous heart beneath a grotesque exterior"8

Drama adaptationsedit

To date, all of the film and TV adaptations have strayed somewhat from the original plot, some going as far as to give it a happy ending, as in the classic 1939 film starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda although Quasimodo loses her to Gringoire in this version The 1956 French film, starring Anthony Quinn and Gina Lollobrigida, is one of the few versions to end almost exactly like the novel, although it changes other sections of the story Unlike most adaptations, the 1996 Disney version has an ending that is inspired by an opera created by Hugo himself


  • Esmeralda 1905 film
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1911 film
  • The Darling of Paris
  • Esmeralda 1922 film
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 film
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939 film
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956 film
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1986 film
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996 film
  • The Secret of the Hunchback 1996 film
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996 film Golden Films
  • The Hunchback 1997 film
  • Quasimodo d'El Paris


  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1966 miniseries
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 miniseries
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1982 film
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1986 film
  • The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo


  • In 1977, an adaptation by Ken Hill was commissioned and staged by the National Theatre in London
  • In 2010, an adaptation by Pip Utton was staged at The Pleasance as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • In 2010, an original adaptation by Myriad Theatre & Film was staged in London and then toured South England
  • In 2012, an adaptation by Belt Up Theatre was staged in Selby Abbey
  • In 2013, an adaptation by James Villafuerte was staged in Tanghalang Pasigueño Villa Teatro


  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Alec R Costandinos and the Syncophonic Orchestra from 1977, a lush orchestral disco 28 minute epic re-telling the tale of Quasimodo and Esmeralda
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1996 recording of music written by Styx singer Dennis DeYoung for his musical adaptation of the novel
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the soundtrack to the 1996 Disney film, released by Walt Disney Records
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame Studio Cast Recording, a 2016 musical album based on Victor Hugo's novel and songs from the Disney film version9

Musical theatreedit

  • La Esmeralda, opera by Louise Bertin 1836, libretto by Victor Hugo
  • Esmeralda, opera by Alexander Dargomyzhsky 1847 based on the Victor Hugo novel
  • Notre-Dame of Paris, opera by William Henry Fry 1864 with libretto by his brother Joseph Reese Fry based on the Victor Hugo novel First performance: Academy of Music, Philadelphia, 4 May 1864, conducted by Theodore Thomas
  • Esmeralda, opera by Arthur Goring Thomas 1883, also based on the same Victor Hugo novel
  • Notre Dame, romantic Opera in two acts by Franz Schmidt, text after Victor Hugo by Schmidt and Leopold Wilk; composed: 1902–4, 1st perf: Vienna 1914
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1993, an Off Broadway musical with music by Byron Janis, lyrics by Hal Hackady and book by Anthony Scully10
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1993, a dramatic sung-through musical with book and lyrics by Gary Sullivan and music by John Trent Wallace11 After a production at the Mermaid Theatre in London it was published by Samuel French Ltd in 1997 and has received several UK productions as well as productions in New Zealand and Australia In 2010 it was re-written as a conventional musical, with the new title Notre Dame12
  • El Jorobado de París 1993, an Argentinian sung-through musical with book and lyrics by Pepe Cibrián Campoy and music by Ángel Mahler Revised versions opened in 1995, 2006 and 2013
  • Notre-Dame de Paris is an operatic melodrama by Zigmars Liepiņš based on the novel
  • In 1998, Notre-Dame de Paris opened in Paris and became an instant success It is considered the most successful adaptation of any novel except for "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Misérables" It was also adapted for the stage by Nicholas DeBaubien13
  • From 1999 to 2002, the Disney film was adapted into a darker, more Gothic musical production called Der Glöckner von Notre Dame translated in English as The Bellringer of Notre Dame in Berlin A cast recording was also recorded in German14 The musical received an American remake in 2014
  • A rock musical version was released in Seattle, Washington in 1998 titled "Hunchback" with music and script by C Rainey Lewis15
  • A musical version, scored by Dennis DeYoung, opened in Chicago at the Bailiwick Repertory in the summer of 200816
  • A re-adaptation of the piece entitled Our Lady of Paris, with music and lyrics by David Levinson and book by Stacey Weingarten, was produced in a reading format in Manhattan It re-sets the action to 1954 at the beginning of the French Algerian conflict After the first reading, the piece underwent revisions; a second reading was produced in January 2011 under the musical's new title, Les Enfants de Paris


  • La Esmeralda 1844 - choreography by Jules Perrot, music by Cesare Pugni First performed at Her Majesty's Theatre in London The ballet has a long performance history in Russia via the revivals of the choreographer Marius Petipa in St Petersburg throughout the late 19th century
  • Gudule’s Daughter, or Esmiralda 1902 – choreography by Alexander Alexeyevich Gorsky, music by Antoine Simon
  • Notre-Dame de Paris 1965 – choreography by Roland Petit, first performed by the Paris Opera Ballet
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1998 – choreography and direction by Michael Pink and original music score by Philip Feeney; currently in the repertoire of Milwaukee Ballet, Boston Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and Colorado Ballet
  • Ringaren i Notre Dame The Bellringer of Notre Dame; 2009 – choreography by Pär Isberg and original music score by Stefan Nilsson, first performed on Friday, April 3, by the Royal Swedish Ballet


The book was twice adapted and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 as its Classic Serial:

  • in 5 parts from 6 January to 3 February 1989, with Jack Klaff as Quasimodo
  • in 2 parts on 30 November and 7 December 2008, with deaf actor David Bower playing Quasimodo

Video gamesedit

  • Hunchback, a 1983 arcade video game developed by Century Electronics, starring Quasimodo

Translation historyedit

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame has been translated into English many times Translations are often reprinted in various imprints Some translations have been revised over time

  • 1833 Translated by Frederic Shoberl as The Hunchback of Notre Dame Later revisions
  • 1833 Translated by William Hazlitt as Notre Dame: A Tale of the Ancien Regime Later revisions
  • 1888 Translated by Isabel F Hapgood as Notre-Dame de Paris
  • 1895 Translated by MW Artois et al, part of the 28-vol The Novels of Victor Hugo, re-printed in the 20th century under other titles
  • 1956 Translated by Lowell Bair, for Bantam Books and included in Bantam Classics
  • 1964 Translated by Walter J Cobb In multiple editions, see for example Signet Classics ISBN 0-451-52788-7
  • 1978 Translated by John Sturrock In multiple editions, see for example Penguin Classics ISBN 0-14-044353-3
  • 1993 Translated by Alban J Krailsheimer as Notre-Dame de Paris See Oxford World's Classics ISBN 978-0-19-955580-2
  • 2002 Revised translation by Catherine Liu of an anonymous 19th century translation See Modern Library Classics ISBN 0-679-64257-9
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it



  1. ^ hubpagescom/entertainment/quasimodo
  2. ^ fr:Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
  3. ^ fr:Notre-Dame de Paris roman#cite note-21
  4. ^ Zaretsky, Rob "Victor Hugo and Architecture", Engines of our Ingenuity Accessed 2 June 2016
  5. ^ "Sparknotescom" Sparknotescom Retrieved 31 May 2011 
  6. ^ "Online-literaturecom" Online-literaturecom 26 January 2007 Retrieved 31 May 2011 
  7. ^ "Real-life Quasimodo uncovered in Tate archives", Roya Nikkhah, The Daily Telegraph, 15 August 2010
  8. ^ Webber, Elizabeth; Mike Feinsilber 1999 Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Allusions Merriam-Webster p 592 ISBN 0-87779-628-9 
  9. ^ BWW News Desk 22 January 2016 "Sanctuary! THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME Cast Album Released Today" BroadwayWorldcom 
  10. ^ "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" Lortelorg Retrieved 31 May 2011 
  11. ^ "Johntrentwallacecom" Johntrentwallacecom 5 December 2010 Retrieved 31 May 2011 
  12. ^ "Notre-damecouk" Notre-damecouk Retrieved 31 May 2011 
  13. ^ Mainstage 1997 – Nicholas De Beabien's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, sacredfoolsorg
  14. ^ Collins, Suzanne "Amazoncom" Amazoncom Retrieved 31 May 2011 
  15. ^ "Hunchback" Hunchback Retrieved 31 May 2011 
  16. ^ "Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical By Styx Front-Man to Play Chicago's Bailiwick" Playbill Retrieved 31 May 2011 


  • Rebello, Stephen The Art of The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996 ed Hyperion ISBN 0-7868-6208-4 
  • Pascal Tonazzi, Florilège de Notre-Dame de Paris anthologie, Editions Arléa, Paris, 2007, ISBN 2-86959-795-9

External linksedit

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Internet Archive and Google Books, multiple English translations scanned books original editions color illustrated
  • Notre-Dame De Paris at Project Gutenberg, 1888 English translation by Isabel Florence Hapgood plain text and HTML
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame public domain audiobook at LibriVox, 1888 English translation by Isabel Florence Hapgood and French available
  • Notre Dame de Paris Harvard Classics
  • Notre-Dame de Paris at Wikisource HTML in French
  • France portal
  • French and Francophone literature portal

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