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Quasimodo (from Quasimodo Sunday) is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831) by Victor Hugo. Quasimodo was born with a hunchback and feared by the townspeople as a sort of monster, but he finds sanctuary in an unlikely love that is fulfilled only in death. The role of Quasimodo has been played by many actors in film and stage adaptations, including Lon Chaney, Sr. (1923), Charles Laughton (1939) and Anthony Quinn (1956), as well as Tom Hulce in the 1996 Disney animated adaptation, and most recently Michael Arden in the 2016 stage musical adaptation. In 2010, a British researcher found evidence suggesting there was a real-life hunchbacked stone carver who worked at Notre Dame during the same period Victor Hugo was writing the novel and they may have even known each other.Contents
The deformed Quasimodo is described as "hideous" and a "creation of the devil". He was born with a severe hunchback, and a giant wart that covers his left eye. He was born to a Gypsy tribe, but due to his monstrous appearance he was switched during infancy with a physically normal baby girl, Agnes. After being discovered, Quasimodo is exorcised by Agnes's mother (who believed that the Gypsies ate her child) and taken to Paris, where he is found abandoned in Notre Dame (on the foundlings' bed, where orphans and unwanted children are left to public charity) on Quasimodo Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter, by Claude Frollo, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, who adopts the baby, names him after the day the baby was found, and brings him up to be the bell-ringer of the Cathedral. Due to the loud ringing of the bells, Quasimodo also becomes deaf causing Frollo to teach him sign language. Although he is hated for his deformity, it is revealed that he is kind at heart. Though Quasimodo commits acts of violence in the novel, these are only undertaken when he is instructed by others.Esmeralda gives a drink to Quasimodo in one of Gustave Brion's illustrations
Looked upon by the general populace of Paris as a monster, he believes that Frollo is the only one who cares for him, and frequently accompanies him when the Archdeacon walks out of Notre Dame. Frollo lusts after a beautiful Gypsy girl named Esmeralda, and enlists Quasimodo in trying to kidnap her (She is later revealed to be Agnes, the baby Quasimodo was switched with). Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers arrives to stop the kidnapping and captures Quasimodo, unaware that Quasimodo was merely following Frollo's orders. The deaf judge Florian Barbedienne sentences him to an hour of flogging and another hour of humiliation on the pillory. Phoebus ties Quasimodo up and has Pierre Torterue whip him in front of a jeering crowd. When Quasimodo calls to him for help, Frollo allows Quasimodo to be tortured as punishment for failing him. When Quasimodo calls for water, a kid throws a wet rag at him. Seeing his thirst, Esmeralda approaches the public stocks and offers him a drink of water. It saves him and she captures his heart.
Esmeralda is later entangled in an attempted murder – committed by Frollo, who had stabbed Phoebus in a jealous rage after spying on Esmeralda and Phoebus having a night of passion – and is sentenced to hang. As she is being forced to pray at the steps of Notre Dame just before being marched off to the gallows, Quasimodo, who has been watching the occasion from an upper balcony in Notre Dame, slides down with a rope, and rescues her by taking her up to the top of the cathedral, where he poignantly shouts "Sanctuary!" to the onlookers below.
Esmeralda is terrified of Quasimodo at first, but gradually recognizes his kind heart and becomes his friend. He watches over her and protects her, and at one point saves her from Frollo when the mad priest sexually assaults her in her room.
After an uneasy respite, a mob of Paris' Truands led by Clopin Trouillefou storms Notre Dame, and although Quasimodo tries to fend them off by throwing stones and bricks down onto the mob and even pours deadly molten lead, the mob continues attacking until Phoebus and his soldiers arrive to fight and drive off the assailants. Unbeknownst to Quasimodo, Frollo lures Esmeralda outside, where he has her arrested and hanged. When Quasimodo sees Frollo smiling cruelly at Esmeralda's execution, he turns on his master and throws him to his death from the balcony in rage.
Quasimodo cries in despair, lamenting "There is all that I ever loved!" He then leaves Notre Dame, never to return, and heads for the Gibbet of Montfaucon beyond the city walls, passing by the Convent of the Filles-Dieu, a home for 200 reformed prostitutes, and the leper colony of Saint-Lazare. After reaching the Gibbet, he lies next to Esmeralda's corpse, where it had been unceremoniously thrown after the execution. He stays at Montfaucon, and eventually dies of starvation, clutching the body of the deceased Esmeralda. Years later, an excavation group exhumes both of their skeletons, which have become intertwined. When they try to separate them, Quasimodo's bones crumble into dust.Symbolism
In the novel, he symbolically shows Esmeralda the difference between himself and the self-centered yet handsome Captain Phoebus, with whom the girl has become infatuated. He places two vases in her room: one is a beautiful crystal vase, yet broken and filled with dry, withered flowers; the other a humble pot, yet filled with beautiful, fragrant flowers. Esmeralda takes the withered flowers from the crystal vase and presses them passionately on her heart.Tribute
A small sculpture of Quasimodo can be found on Notre Dame, on the exterior of the north transept along the Rue du Cloître-Notre-Dame.Adaptations
Among the actors who have played Quasimodo over the years in each adaptation of the novel are:Actor Version Henry Vorins 1905 film titled Esmeralda Henry Krauss 1911 film Glen White 1917 film titled The Darling of Paris Booth Conway 1922 film titled Esmeralda Lon Chaney 1923 film Charles Laughton 1939 film Anthony Quinn 1956 film Peter Woodthorpe (voice) 1966 animated television series Warren Clarke 1977 television film Anthony Hopkins 1982 television film Tom Burlinson (voice) 1986 animated film Daniel Brochu (voice) 1996 animated television series titled The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo Tom Hulce (voice) 1996 animated Disney film Mandy Patinkin 1997 television film Garou 1997–2002 musical Patrick Timsit 1999 parody film titled Quasimodo d'El Paris Michael Arden 2014–2015 musical Disney version In the first film
In Disney's 1996 animated film adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo is a very different character than in the novel. He was voiced by Tom Hulce and animated by James Baxter. Unlike in the novel, Quasimodo has two eyes, with his left one only partially covered. He is not deaf, and is capable of fluent speech. He has three anthropomorphic gargoyle friends named Victor, Hugo, and Laverne.
In the beginning of the film, a gypsy mother tries to sneak the hunchbacked infant into Notre Dame, but Judge Claude Frollo chases and inadvertently kills her. Frollo attempts to drown the baby in a nearby well upon seeing his deformity, but the church's Archdeacon stops him and demands that he atone for his crime by raising the child as his son. Frollo, fearing God's wrath, reluctantly agrees, and adopts the child in the hope that he will be useful to him one day. Frollo cruelly names the child Quasimodo, which in the film is Latin for "half-formed." Over the years he raises Quasimodo with cruelty, forbidding him to leave the tower and teaching him that the world is a wicked, sinful place, and that the Parisian people will reject him due to his deformity. He also lies to Quasimodo about his mother, telling him she abandoned him as a baby and that anybody else would have drowned him had Frollo not stepped in and adopted him. Quasimodo nevertheless grows up to be a kind-hearted young man who yearns to join the outside world.
Quasimodo sneaks out of the cathedral during the Festival of Fools, where he is crowned the "King of Fools" and meets Esmeralda, with whom he falls in love. Two of Frollo's guards ruin the moment where they throw tomatoes at him and bind him to a wheel to torment him. Then everyone joins in. Frollo refuses to help as punishment for his disobedience. Esmeralda takes pity on him and frees him after Phoebus failed to get Frollo to intervene. After Esmeralda escapes, Frollo confronts Quasimodo who apologizes and returns to the bell tower. He later befriends and helps her flee from Frollo's men in gratitude.
Frollo eventually locates the Gypsies and Esmeralda's lover Captain Phoebus at the Court of Miracles. He sentences Esmeralda to death, and has Quasimodo chained up in the bell tower. Quasimodo breaks free, however, and rescues Esmeralda from execution. Phoebus breaks free from his cage and rallies the citizens of Paris against Frollo's tyranny. From the bell tower, Quasimodo and the gargoyles watch the citizens fighting Frollo's army. They pour molten lead onto the streets, thus preventing Frollo and his soldiers from breaking in. However, Frollo successfully manages to enter the cathedral. He tries to kill Quasimodo, who is mourning Esmeralda, believing her to be dead. The two struggle briefly until Quasimodo throws Frollo to the floor and denounces him, finally seeing him for what he is. Esmeralda awakens and Quasimodo rushes her to safety. He then fights the wrathful Frollo, who taunts him with the truth about his mother. Both fall from the balcony, but Phoebus catches Quasimodo and pulls him to safety, while Frollo falls to his death.
Quasimodo is finally accepted into society by the citizens of Paris as they celebrate Frollo's death and the liberation of the city.In the second film
In Disney's 2002 direct-to-video sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Quasimodo (again voiced by Hulce) reappears as the protagonist. He remains a bell-ringer, still living in Notre Dame with the gargoyles. This time, he is able to move around Paris freely. He finds love in a beautiful circus performer named Madellaine (voiced by Jennifer Love Hewitt), who ultimately reveals that she is aware that the gargoyles are alive. His love for Madellaine is briefly strained when he learns she was actually working on behalf of a criminal mastermind named Sarousch who plans to steal a particularly valuable bell, La Fidele, from Notre Dame. Madellaine's true feelings for Quasimodo overcome her loyalty to Sarousch, however, and she aids Quasimodo in bringing Sarousch to justice. Quasimodo forgives Madellaine and the two pledge their love to each other.Later appearances
The Muppets have done spoofs of Quasimodo and his story:
In August 2010, Adrian Glew, a Tate archivist, announced evidence for a real-life Quasimodo, a "humpbacked carver" who worked at Notre Dame during the 1820s. The evidence is contained in the memoirs of Henry Sibson, a 19th-century British sculptor who worked at Notre Dame at around the same time Hugo wrote the novel. Sibson describes a humpbacked stonemason working there: "He was the carver under the Government sculptor whose name I forget as I had no intercourse with him, all that I know is that he was humpbacked and he did not like to mix with carvers." Because Victor Hugo had close links with the restoration of the cathedral, it is likely that he was aware of the unnamed "humpbacked carver" nicknamed "Le Bossu" (French for "The Hunchback"), who oversaw "Monsieur Trajin". Adrian Glew also uncovered that both the hunchback and Hugo were living in the same town of Saint Germain-des-Prés in 1833, and in early drafts of Les Misérables, Hugo named the main character "Jean Trajin" (the same name as the unnamed hunchbacked carver's employee), but later changed it to "Jean Valjean".See also