Quasimodo is a deaf, deformed and almost blind young man whose job is to ring the bells of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Quasimodo was abandoned on the steps of the cathedral when he was only four years old. People were horrified by his contorted body and by his ugliness and thought it would be best if they would burn the creature that ended up on their doorstep. A young priest named Claude Frollo took the child to his chambers in the Notre Dame Cathedral and raised him like his own son. He named the poor child Quasimodo and made him the bell ringer of the cathedral at the age of fourteen. Quasimodo was extremely loyal to his benefactor and he followed Frollo everywhere. He made the cathedral his home and he loved ringing the bells even if the sound rendered him deaf.
Pierre Gringoire is a poet and a playwright. He was summoned to stage a play in the honor of the Flemish Ambassadors that are about to arrange a marriage between the Dauphin of France and Princess Margaret of Flanders. His play is delayed due to the fact that the ambassadors are late to arrive and the audience is bored and distracted by a merry crowd of vagrants who crowned Quasimodo the new Pope of Fools. The whole thing falls apart when a young gipsy girl named Esmeralda and her little white goat, Djali, appear beneath the palace windows. The people leave the play and flock to see the new attraction of the day.
Gringoire doesn't get paid and he starts wondering the streets aimlessly because he has no money and no place to sleep. At some point, he sees Quasimodo and Frollo trying to abduct Esmeralda. He tries to help her but the guards intervene and they take Quasimodo to jail. Esmeralda disappears. Gringoire tries to find her and he ends up in a strange neighborhood populated by the beggars and the crippled of Paris. The king of the tribe says Gringoire must be hanged unless a woman from the tribe decides to marry him for four years. Esmeralda appears and she says she will do it so she saves Gringoire's life. She also tells him that she is in love with Captain Phoebus, the man who saved her from Quasimodo.
Paquette-la-Chanterfleurie was a young woman when she lost her only daughter. She believed that the chid was kidnapped by gypsies and she decided to mourn her death by locking herself in a small cell and praying for the rest of her life. Now, she is an old woman and she hates Esmeralda because she thinks the girl is a gypsie who kidnaps childres and eats them. In the end she will learn that Esmeralda was her long lost child.
Quasimodo is on trial for trying to kidnap Esmeralda but she shows up and pleads for his release and he is astonished by her kindness. Claude Frollo is in love with Esmeralda and he professes his love to the young girl but she is not impressed. He finds out that she is in love with Captain Phoebus. Frollo follows Phoebus one night as he is about to meet Esmeralda and he kills him. Esmeralda is accused of killing the captain. She goes on trial for killing the captain and she is also accused of being a witch. She is taken to the public place to be executed but Quasimodo intervenes and takes her away into the cathedral and asks for sanctuary. Esmeralda spends several weeks under the careful watch of Quasimodo until the king declares that the cathedral can no longer be a place of sanctuary and that the witch must be executed. There is a huge fight and Esmeralda disappears. Quasimodo understands that Frollo took the girl away and he throws him out the window into the street. Quasimodo understands that Esmeralda was executed and he disappears. After two years, some people discover his twisted skeleton in a graveyard near the one of the girl he loved so much.
Best part of story, including ending:
The story is about medieval prejudices against witches, gypsies and other strange creatures and the role of religion in keeping those prejudices alive. The story is sad and Esmeralda's death in unfair but it gives one hope that things have somehow evolved towards tolerance and understanding between people.
Best scene in story:
I liked the scene where Esmeralda shows up at Quasimodo's trial an speaks up for him. He is in tears and he doesn't understand her kindness but he is nonetheless very impressed.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked Quasimodo's loyalty and his kind soul. He remains kind and loving despite people's hatred and mockery towards him. He keeps his heart warm and he really loves Esmeralda.