The Hunchback Of NotreDame Essay Research Paper

The Hunchback Of Notre-Dame Essay, Research Paper

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

?Love is a universal language.? This popular quote

from many movies and literary works describes the importance

of love, and how there are no limits or barriers when

dealing with love. Many people cannot even help whether or

not they fall in love. There are many types of love and

they need not be between members of opposite sexes. In

Victor Hugo’s novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame,

Quasimodo’s love for Esmerelda is not as strong as his

different sense of love for the Archdeacon, Claude Frollo.

Quasimodo loves each person in a different manner, but is

truer to the Archdeacon.

The hunchback feels, among other things, a love

described as Eros for the Mistress Esmerelda; whereas, for

the Archdeacon the love he feels is known as Philia. While

Quasimodo is drawn to Esmerelda by her inner beauty and

personal qualities, he admires the Archdeacon for his

powerful position in the social structure of the town.

Throughout the story, Quasimodo does his best to protect

Esmerelda. Contrarily, he is protected by the Archdeacon.

There are four types of love, only one of which involves a

man’s physical love for a woman and vice versa. This type

of love is known as Eros. It is defined as a relationship

in which two parties are physically attracted to one

another. Esmerelda, the gypsy, is quite beautiful. She

dances in the midst of a crowd near a bonfire: ?All eyes

were fixed on her, all mouths hung open. As she danced to

the rhythm of the tambourine which her round, delicate arms

held over her head, she seemed to be some sort of

supernatural creature(p.22). Quasimodo is taken by her

loveliness just like most other men. However, because he is

deformed and hideous, Quasimodo’s physical attraction to the

Mistress is unrequited. Nevertheless, this attraction is

uncontrollable. Although he never acts upon his urges nor

openly displays his affection, the hunchback feels the type

of love called Eros for Esmerelda. Accordingly, he feels a

different kind of love for the Archdeacon: Philia. Just as

Eros as love stems from physical factors, Philia is a result

of external factors. The Archdeacon is a man of God. He is

considered the religious authority in Paris. Quasimodo

resides in the Notre Dame Cathedral. He takes a great

interest in God, and apparently shares this interest with

the Archdeacon. Quasimodo was taken in by Claude Frollo

when he was quite young. The two men grew quite close

together: ?When the poor bellringer became deaf the two men

developed a mysterious language of signs and gestures which

was understood by them alone. Thus the Archdeacon was the

only person with whom Quasimodo maintained communication

(p.65). The hunchback feels a sense of love based on

comradery and years of relations. He deeply admires Claude

Frollo’s religious faith and charity: that is, the charity

shown to Quasimodo when he was only a young, abandoned boy.

The two men have a complex system of hand gestures and sign

language which they use to communicate with each other. This

illustrates their mutual correspondence and understanding.

Through these experiences and this upbringing, Quasimodo

develops a Philial love for the Archdeacon.

In the timeframe of this story, the late 1400’s and

early 1500’s, the Catholic Church is a major factor and

authority in virtually all of a town’s laws, transactions

and business. This being the case, holding the position as

Archdeacon, or head of the church, is a much coveted

occupation. Quasimodo admires the Archdeacon’s powerful

position. The hunchback himself enjoys authority as he

possesses the power of rule over people. This is visible

when he is elected Pope of Fools: ?Quasimodo let himself be

decked out in them with a kind of proud docility. He was

then made to sit down on a brightly colored litter. Twelve

officers of the Brotherhood of Fools lifted it to their

shoulders. A bitter and haughty joy spread over the gloomy

face of the Cyclops [Quasimodo] as he saw under his deformed

feet the heads of all those handsome, straight and well-made

men (p.17). It is evident that he is happy to be exalted

among normal men, even if only for one night and he is

chosen because he wins an ugliness contest. Since Claude

Frollo holds such a praiseworthy position, the hunchback

respects him. He is also honored that such a figure as the

Archdeacon even associates with he, a measly and horrid bell


As opposed to the Archdeacon, Esmerelda holds no real

power or authority. Rather she has the ability to see

beyond the exterior appearance of something, and learn about

its true value. She accomplishes this with Quasimodo. At

first, she is repelled by his terrible ugliness. The gypsy

?often reproached herself for not being grateful enough to

blind herself to his appearance but, try as she might, she

could not accustom herself to him. He was too ugly

(p.206).? Eventually, however, she overcomes her aversion

to his appearance. She realizes that he is a caring and

compassionate human being. He has feelings, he loves, and

he can be loved. Quasimodo discovers Esmerelda’s ability to

view someone from a different perspective. He also becomes

aware than she is a decent and caring person on the inside,

despite her reactions to his grotesque appearance. He then

feels a sense of kinship and a deeper sort of love towards

the Mistress that transcends Eros love.

Esmerelda is guilty of committing a grave

transgression. She is sentenced to be hanged. Just before

the platform is dropped from beneath her feet and her life

ended, Quasimodo appears and strikes the two guards.

Esmerelda is free. He brings her to the Cathedral as a

sanctuary to take refuge in one of the towers. During the

length of her stay in the tower, she is completely isolated

from the outside world. Quasimodo is the only person always

present in the church. He takes it upon himself to be

responsible for keeping Esmerelda happy and comfortable. He

brings her food, drink, any news and he does his best to

answer any questions she may ask. One night, a violent mob,

the vagabonds, wishes to enter the Cathedral and abduct

Esmerelda. Quasimodo manages to fend off the entire mob

until help arrives in the form of Phoebus, one of the King’s

archers, and his squadron of soldiers. ?Those who were not

shrieking, those who were still alive, saw two streams of

molten lead falling from the top of the church into the

thickest part of the crowd, making two black, smoking holes

in it,? Dying men, half burned to ashes, were writhing and

groaning in agony (p.241).? The hunchback throws stones,

tools, anything he can find down on the attackers. He then

sets fire to lead sheets. They become molten and the

intensely hot liquid rains down, burning and melting the

mob. Such desperate actions are surely a sign of love and a

willingness to protect Esmerelda.

In contrast, Quasimodo does not, in any way, protect

Claude Frollo. In fact, the opposite is true. The

Archdeacon acts as a father figure to the hunchback. In

turn, Quasimodo shows the utmost respect for Frollo. He

takes punishment and scorn from Frollo, even when it is not

deserved, and accepts it quietly. He does this while he is

quite capable of defying the Archdeacon physically as he

does with any other person that angers him: ?Quasimodo came

up to the priest, looked at him and fell to his knees?

Quasimodo remained on his knees, lowered his head and

clasped his hands together?They then began a strange

dialogue of signs and gestures,?the priest standing, angry,

threatening and imperious; Quasimodo kneeling, humble and

supplicating. Yet there was no doubt that Quasimodo could

have crushed the priest with his thumb (p.27).? This

obedience signifies that the bell ringer is deeply thankful

for the priest’s company and leadership. Quasimodo

continues to show gratitude by obeying every command given

to him by the Archdeacon. When the Archdeacon decides that

Esmerelda should hang, even though Quasimodo loves her he

could not defy the priest’s command: he sat quietly by and

awaited the hanging. It is clear that this love stems from

the protection of the Archdeacon through Quasimodo’s early

years of life. This also exposes the fact that Quasimodo’s

respect and obedience to the Archdeacon outweighs his

feelings for Esmerelda.

Throughout the story by Victor Hugo, Quasimodo shows

love to both Esmerelda, a beautiful gypsy, and to Claude

Frollo, the Archdeacon that took the hunchback into his

custody. Two types of love displayed are Eros, to the

Mistress, and Philia, toward Frollo. Quasimodo’s protection

of Esmerelda is seen inversely through his relationship with

the Archdeacon. The Archdeacon and Esmerelda have diverse

qualities that evoke separate types of love from Quasimodo.

In the end, the bell ringer’s relationship with Frollo

supercedes his emotions towards the Mistress. The Philial

and brotherly love triumphs over unrequited erotic love.


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