Monday, October 12, 2009

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I recently read this book and found it very interesting. It raised several questions for me.
How much of human opinion is truly based on appearance?
Is innocence and naivety naturally lovable?
Can someone really be so innocent and naive to be so lovable (if that is indeed lovable) but be in love with someone other then the person she has married?
Where is the line between real love, infatuation, and desire?
And my top in the universe did they create this story into a kids' movie???????

So, have any of the rest of you read Victor Hugo's Hunchback? I looked all over the version I read because I don't believe it is completely unabridged, but I couldn't find anything. I'm going to assume it is, because I can't imagine Victor Hugo writing a book that was only 400 pages long. :-)

I haven't watched the cartoon, so I don't know how different the book is, but here is a short (hopefully) plot synopsis and then some of my opinions about the book.

Sixteen years before the book begins a woman, now called Sister Gudule, was gone from her
house when a band of gypsies stole her baby girl and replaced it with a deformed boy. She flips out (mentally and physically) and is imprisoned and the boy is adopted by the archdeacon of Notre Dame, Claude Frollo. Claude Frollo is a a highly respected, but friendless priest. He brings up Quesimondo and shields him from the public of Paris as Frollo's own brother, an overindulged poet.

Quesimondo eventually takes refuge by staying in Notre Dame (outcasts and even criminals were out of reach from the public and the law in the sanctuary of Notre Dame) and becomes the bell ringer, where he loses his hearing before h
e is 20. He is completely devoted to Claude Frollo.

Then Esmeralda, the young gypsy comes on the scene. She is a dancer and goes around Paris collecting money. She is also looking for her parents (light bulb here?) and carries a pink baby shoe around her neck. She believes when she finds its match, she finds her mother. (She of course, also has a little goat the does tricks and follows her around. Her only true friend. Isn't that tender?)
She belongs to a band of gypsies called the "Court of Miracles". By mistake an unfortunate poet, Pierre Gringoire, discovers the band. The Court declares that he must either be hanged or marry a gypsy. Out of pity, Esmeralda marries Gringoire, but continues her dancing and completely ignores him.

Frollo sees Esmeralda and begins to follow her around to watch her dance. He becomes completely infatuated with her de
spite that fact that he is a respected priest...hem, hem! At some point he convinces Quesimondo to help him try to capture her so he can talk with her (uh..hint..not a good way to win a ladies heart). It fails and Quesimondo is captured and put in the stocks. Esmeralda sees him the next day being jeered at. He is calling for water and she is the only one who will come and give him any. After this, of course, Quesimondo loves her forever. Despite the fact that he tried to capture her and that he is horribly ugly, she was willing to give him water!

Esmeralda, well dancing in Paris, meets Phobeus, a young and handsome lieutenant
who rescues her from a crowd that proclaims her a witch. Despite the fact that Phobeus is engaged to a rich and beautiful noble lady, a fact he does not mention, and that Esmeralda is married, she falls madly in love with him. Phobeus suggests another meeting, being infatuated himself. Frollo, even though he's never introduced himself to Esmeralda, becomes frightfully jealous and follows them to their place of meeting.
Phobeus proposes (even though he has no long term interest in Esmeralda) so Esmeralda trusts him...anyways...Phobeus acts ungentlemanly so Frollo comes and stabs him in the back and runs away. Esmeralda is then accused of seducing and then attempting murder on a soldier. She is sentenced to hang.

Frollo comes to her jail cell and co
nfesses his love and says he can get her out of jail. She goes on and on about Phobeus and he gets mad. He says "hang for all I care unless you agree to marry me and never mention Phobeus again!" (slightly paraphrased). She says if Phobeus is dead I shall die too.

So, she's about to get hanged and Frollo is the priest to take her confession and he gives her another chance, but she refuses. Then! Quesimondo snatches her from the hangman and runs away to the Sanctuary. All though it takes forever for Esmeralda to figure out that he is deaf, they gradually become friends and Quesimondo is very devoted. Frollo eventually finds out where Quesimondo has hidden her and comes and tries to bug her... Quesimondo can't tell that it is Frollo and nearly kills him. When he does find out he is crushed because Frollo is his hero. He says, 'Whatever, but you have to kill me first and stands in front of Esmeralda.' Frollo feels like a jerk (ding, ding! You are!) and slinks off.

The gypsies, however, plan to "save" Esmeralda from Notre Dame. In the middle of the night they plan an attack. But becaus
e Quesimondo is deaf and he thinks it is a mob trying to bring Esmeralda out and hang her, so he fights back. He throws a huge beam on them along with melted led etc... He then, without knowing it, kills Frollo's brother. It is not long before soldiers come to quite the mob, the commanding officer being no other then Phobeus. Most of the gypsies are massacred.
Meanwhile, Gringoire, Esmeralda's neglected husband, tries another route of saving her by the aid of a helpful priest...yeah...Frollo! OOghy boogy! They take her away, but then Gringoire disappears and Frollo again threatens to get her hanged unless she agrees to marry him (sounds like true love, right?). She, of course, refuses, saying she finds the gallows and what lays beyond a kinder master then him. He puts her in the trust of Sister Gudule well he runs to find the guards.
Well he is gone, guess what? Sister Gudule and Esmeralda find out they are mother and daughter! When Frollo returns with the soldiers Sister Gudule almost succeeds in hiding her daughter, but instead dies trying to save her from the gallows. Phobeus is there, but leaves jus
t in time to miss the fact that the "criminal" they are hunting down is Esmeralda. Esmeralda really gets hanged this time.

Quesimondo goes crazy at Notre Dame trying to find Esmeralda thinking she is hiding in the church. Instead he finds Frollo leaning on the balcony watching Esmeralda get hanged, AND cackling! In a fit of righteous rage Quesimondo throws Frollo of the balcony were he scrambles for several minutes on top of a gargoyle and then falls down to a horrible death (finally already!).

Quesimondo then cries well he watches Esmeralda get hanged. Now the only two people who ever cared about him are dead. Quesimondo is never seen again.
Several years later, well some men try to find something in the vault were criminals are buried they find the skeleton of a hunchbacked figure craddling that of a young girl'a.The End!

So...yeah! Not at all a children's story! But I enjoyed it and thought it was a very good and thought provoking book. Just wondered if any of you had any more thoughts on it.

If you got to the end of this good for you! Congrats!
Miss Pickwickian


Miss Pickwickian said...

Sorry this got so long! Its sort of more like a plot outline then a review.... Oops!

Polka Dot said...

So you DID like it? I thought you thought it was weird. I like your synopsis. LOL.