The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

ISBN: 0760701687
ISBN 13: 9780760701683
By: Victor Hugo

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Reader's Thoughts

Amy

When I was in middle school, I'd watched and enjoyed the Disney animated version of the story, totally oblivious to how absolutely horribly Disney had "cleaned it up" for the children. Then one day, on the word of the day mailing list I'm subscribed to, one of the words had an example on its use pulled from the book. Just that one except was enough to totally floor me, I knew Disney really frelled with things, but I never remembered it being so extreme before. I had for some reason assumed the movie was more accurate than others because it was actually kinda dark for a Disney animation.This revelation in hand, I went and found myself an unabridged copy of the book to read. I had assumed that since Disney chopped it up so horribly and changed things so drastically, I couldn't trust anyone to edit the story down, and didn't know what I was getting in for. From the start, I was noticing tons of things that Disney either edited out all together or drastically changed. I do think that if I give it another read, I will consider picking up an abridged copy, just because all the detailed descriptions of Paris and its architecture was just a little bit more than I could happily handle. Between slogging through that, the actual storyline was good.The characters were interesting, it was easy to get frustrated with the ones you like because of the stupid mistakes they make, it's also easy to cheer with them if they manage something good. The book is dark, the ending sad, but I still highly recommend it. Don't be ashamed to grab the abridged version if you don't think you can handle chapters of nothing but geography and architecture in the city of Paris though, it was the only thing I regretted about reading the book.

Rebecca

The writing is brilliant, the plot is unusual. But-- perhaps like in life-- where are the good guys? Esmerelda doesn't say much other than "Oh Pheobus!" She's a very flat character, imho. The book seems to be a study in love gone wrong-- romantic love, parental love, all gone wrong. There are examples of charitable love toward Quasimoto, and in the end he performs a selfless act for Esmerelda, but overall it was a very depressing look at love vs lust, and a study in what not to do. five stars for the writing itself (lovely), but docked a point because it leaves me discouraged with everyone.

Thomas Johnson

This is quite a tome, and it requires both patience and time to get through. Hugo is prone to digressions, some of which stretch on for at least fifteen pages (I was listening to an audiobook recording, and a number of the digressions went on for at least fifteen minutes). The lengthy asides are devoted to describing in elaborate detail the architecture and geography of fifteenth-century Paris, background which imparts the novel with a deeper sense of authenticity than it would have possessed had Hugo kept his narrative focus solely on his characters. Nevertheless, this reader was left wishing Hugo had refrained from sidelining them for as many pages as he did in order to indulge in his love for what he evidently believed to be the height of Parisian artistry.Though these asides – educational as they are – can be tiresome, Hugo’s characters ultimately take precedence in the novel, and it is their struggles which impart the novel with lasting value as a story. His three main characters – Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and the Archdeacon Frollo – are not always sympathetic, but are consistently intriguing because they are motivated by the primal human emotions of lust and love. Through them, Hugo effectively shows the harm which one acting on lust can bring to a person who pursues love at any cost.Quasimodo, the eponymous hunchback, is a character who pursues love at any cost – a love for Esmeralda which is especially selfless because he understands that she will always be repulsed by his deformities. Quasmodo’s devotedness to Esmeralda coupled with his inability to connect to the world around him makes him easily sympathetic, despite his occasionally violent behavior. However, it is this same isolation which make him the least engaging of the three main characters. While Esmeralda and Frollo can verbally spar and passionately express their emotions to one another, Quasimodo can barely communicate and remains in the cathedral throughout most of the story while the action continues below him. He is always compelling when he enters into the main action of the story, at which points he validates his status as the titular character by drastically altering the plot, but it is difficult to feel as strongly about his fate as though characters whom are continually at the reader’s attention.Esmeralda falls in to that category, as she is a character who elicits a strong emotional reaction from the reader, though not necessarily a positive one. Unlike Quasimodo, Esmeralda cannot accept that the person whom she loves – the captain Phoebus who is entirely driven by lust – does not love her. It is this stubbornness which enables the reader to empathize with her while also becoming incredibly frustrated by her. Her cries of “Phoebus! Oh where is my Phoebus?” can become annoying, because they indicate a desperation which is both understandable and uncomfortable to read about. Some might, perhaps rightly, accuse Hugo of sexism in his portrayal of a woman who becomes utterly dependent on a man’s approval and acceptance, but her plight also speaks truthfully to the debilitating power love can have over an person, and to the larger damage a casually cruel person like Phoebus can unknowingly inflict.Archdeacon Frollo’s cruelty, like Phoebus’s, is borne out of lust, but Frollo is more cognizant of the consequences of his choices than is Phoebus. He is arguably the most fascinating character in the novel because he, like Esmeralda, struggles with desire – in his case, a lustful desire – for a person who does not love him, but whereas she only had to fear for her temporal life, he is fully believes that pursuing his feelings will lead him to spiritual damnation. He is given the choice between selfless devotion and self-gratification, and chooses the latter in spite of the consequences to himself and everyone else. Though in this he becomes objectively despicable, the reader continues to be intrigued by and perhaps to feel a remnant of sympathy for him, because he is tormented by such an inescapable and universal emotion as lust. The complexity of his inner torment is arguably the strongest aspect of the novel, and a great example of how good writing can depict a believable villain.While the conflict between love and lust is well depicted, Hugo must also be praised for injecting his story with enough humor to keep the story from becoming melodramatic. The narrator’s occasionally wry tone and mockery of Parisian government provides the opportunity for laughter, though some of the history he references may seem obscure to the modern reader. The character of Gringoire, the pitiful philosopher who tends to value his survival over anything else, is able to provide a steady stream of sarcasm throughout much of the story, as he is free of most of the personal attachments that plague the other characters.By the end of the book, the reader may think he is wisest character of all, because Hugo does not allow those of his characters who love much happiness. In this, his depiction of love could be said to be one-sided, if not untruthful. He presents a powerful depiction of lust foiling love, without accounting for the possibility that in some cases, love might just come out the winner.

Ben

First of all, forget everything you think you know about this story based on Disney films or other adaptions. This is a horrid account of death in the stylings of Shakespearean tragedy offset by brilliant and imaginitive prose.Victor Hugo craftily employs character contrast, metaphor, split narrative, etc to render "Hunchback". Without going to much into detail, I will say these are merely devices by which Hugo drafts the misunderstandings and tragedy that would ensue through the story: Esmerelda misunderstanding Phoebus' "love" and being wrongly accused for a death that did not happen, Claude Frollo misunderstanding how to express love and how to fill the void left in its absence, the parentage of several characters, the King's orders without proper information, etc.Quasimodo seems to be the only character in tune with his own quality, as ugly and mis-shapen as he is. And thusly, like the great cathedral herself, he watches this all unfold and reacts in a fairly dumb, child-like fashion. The final events of the story could have all been avoided had certain social or cultural qualities been eliminated, which is, I'm sure, Hugo's point.It is a fantastic read, but be warned - you will not put the book down feeling good about...anything.

Sheila Mulrooney

I began this novel expecting the story to vaguely resemble the Disney film. Although I anticipated some changes (a 19th century novel could never be so simple), nothing could have prepared me for this novel.A fully fleshed out fairy tale, The Hunchback of NotreDame is dark, heart wrenching, mysterious, suspenseful and filled with heartbreak. The passion behind each character defines them, whether it be Esmeralda's irrational unrequited love for Phoebus or Don Frollo's perverted obsession with the gypsy girl. Between midnight meetings, lost identities, superstitious legends and a hideous hunchback, I truly felt like I was immersed in the world of Brother's Grimm.I think the greatest triumph of this novel were the characters themselves. Hugo dedicates chapters to each character, ensuring the reader fully understands each one's loves, hatreds, virtues and failings. Don Frollo is introduced as brilliant beyond his time - no one can compare to his great mind. The reader then sees the demise of Don Frollo as his obsession with Esmeralda grows, and therefore cannot see him as a one dimensional evil character. This lack of a true enemy is a brilliant move on Hugo's part, and leaves the reader to form opinion's of their own. Throughout the book, Hugo takes breaks from his complicated story to insert his own essays of his own musings. These essays, often adding 50 pages to the already enormous novel, I found tedious and unnecessary. When reading, be wary: they appear more often than anyone would like. All that being said, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a truly beautiful story, and very much worth reading. As fanciful as Hugo makes 15th century Paris, this story has something timeless and resounding in it, earning its place as a classic.

Bruce

When approaching and reading this fascinating narrative, the reader is well advised to try and forget the silly Walt Disney film based on the story. This work is far more finely wrought, more complex and subtle, more emotionally wrenching and profound than that ridiculous movie suggests. As with Les Miserables, attempts to dramatize such a long and multi-plotted work inevitably fall short and are best forgotten when one turns to the books themselves.Many historical personages are mentioned in this novel. It is not necessary to know who these people were, but it does enhance the verisimilitude of the narrative and adds to the interest. The work is after all an historical novel, and some knowledge of the times in France is helpful. The dedicated reader might want to review French history in 1482, during the reign of Louis XI, to get a flavor of what the story is about. Few authors have been able so evocatively to conjure a sense of place as Hugo’s late 15th century Paris (many places are very recognizable to today’s reader who has been to Paris and walked its streets). Paris is a primary character in this narrative, and at its center is its omphalos, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in all its shabby grandeur, its mouldering deterioration (Hugo’s description of the cathedral apparently did lead to its restoration later in the 19th century). Everything revolves around the building and its site, and it is an orienting and a brooding presence throughout the novel. The French title for this book is, of course, Notre-Dame de Paris.Hugo has long interpolated chapters in which the author speaks directly to the reader, commenting not only on the action to date but also digressing to speak more philosophically about human trends and human progress, as in a chapter where he discusses the gradual demise of the preeminence of architecture as the mode of human expression and teaching and the rise of literature as the printing press appeared. This transition and transformation was both the product of and also enabled the rise of the democratic and Enlightenment spirit as power and control shifted from the Church and the aristocracy to the populace. Some readers might be impatient with these interruptions; I found them fascinating not only as philosophical ruminations but as reflections of the ideas emerging and coalescing in the early 19th century, an example of the philosophy of ideas continually mutates and evolves. Hugo’s exquisite sense of pace and timing, alternating chapters in such a way that the reader cannot turn aside but submits to the author’s choice of topic and emotional tenor as the strands of the plot unravel one by one, enhances rather than detracts from the novel.The complex plot, which I will not attempt to summarize here, involves the gypsy girl Esmeraldo, the unworthy soldier whom she loves, Captain Phoebus, and the two men who love her, the complex and ultimately maleficent Archdeacon Claude Frollo and the deformed Notre Dame bellringer Quasimodo. Suffice it to say, almost everyone comes to a bad end.Hugo is capable of including almost unnoticed details throughout the course of the text that symbolically tie the narrative together. A single example is Esmeralda’s tiny embroidered infant shoe at the beginning of her life of joy and hope, and the buskin of torture that is the emblem of her fate and death. On the other hand, his control of dialogue, sometimes astute and skillful, can also falter badly. The love talk between Esmeralda and Phoebus sounds stereotyped and stilted, symptomatic of times in the narrative when I felt the tone was unconvincing. Many of his dialogues are weak, out of character for the individuals into whose mouths he puts them or unconvincing in the context of the immediate action.Psychologically he can be more astute, for example in the development of Frollo’s character, a case of asceticism trying to overcompensate for the attractiveness of sensuality. Why is sex always so demonized? Is it due to the apparent loss of control that it produces? Humankind has difficulty letting go, and yet letting go is what ultimately each of us must do, for that is what aging and death cause and require. It is no wonder that the French call orgasm “la petite mort.” In Frollo, Hugo paints a picture of progressive and total alienation from the self, despair that utterly unhinges reason, the sickness unto death. Is Hugo’s depiction essential anti-clerical or can it be generalized beyond that? Certainly the latter.Hugo, in his descriptions and his dialogue, can be frenzied and impassioned, histrionic and wrenching. He can be psychological penetrating and astute, and he can be both subtle and moving. He can also sometimes be maudlin and almost silly, excessive in the detail and the imaginativeness of his descriptions of place, emotions, and behavior. At such times he runs the risk of losing the reader, of causing the reader to recoil from engagement with the narrative and to respond with skepticism. It is a fine line that he treads, and sometimes he steps over it, breaking the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief. Is this always the danger in Gothic historical romance novels? It need not be, I think, but the risk is real.The narrative is an exploration of love, love in all its varieties and dimensions, its tenderness and loveliness, its anguish and extremes and perversions. Each kind of love is personified in one of the story’s main characters, and it is interesting to see such a global emotion or impulse dissected, examined in one dimension or another. Is any character, however, complete? Does any contain all these dimensions within himself or herself in the way each of us truly does? Or does each character simply present himself or herself as a caricature in this novel, rather than as a rounded personality? Perhaps Claude Frollo is the most fully realized character, the character most psychologically complex, the character who develops most dramatically during the narrative.Perhaps even more than love, Hugo’s obsession is with Fate, the Ananká he describes having seen written on an interior wall of Notre Dame. Writing at a time when his political hopes have been disappointed, he turns to the writing of literature to express his understanding of life, its twists and turns. His characters play out this theme, almost all tragically. In this novel, Hugo has woven a tale that is compelling, not a flawless work but one that engages the reader and is hard to forget.

Tyler

Amazing book! Loved the author's view on things. I really felt like I was getting glimpses of a great mind by reading this book. You might want to read it with a highlighter for good quotes. I'm reading Les Miserable right now and again I really like Victor Hugo's writing. There are times where he really goes into depth about history, or something and it is hard to read but if you can get past those parts you will thank yourself because he has some great writing.

♔ Leah.

This is definitely my favourite classic, I loved the dark atmosphere of the book, and the setting being Notre-Dame, which is one of my favourite places in Paris. It's not entirely dark and horrible, there are times when it can be humorous, but it's brutal in terms of showing what obsession can become when it's misunderstood as love and the true form of love shown by other characters. When starting this book, it was really difficult to get into which is why I had to force myself to keep reading until about 60 pages in (with the introduction) when I got into the plot. The story follows different characters, as well as flashbacks and Hugo's knowledge of Notre-Dame and Paris as a city. I also love how the cathedral is a metaphor for beauty and the beast as a balanced whole— the gargoyles being a representation of Quasimodo and the famous Rose window being Esmeralda, 2 distinct features of the cathedral. *spoilers ahead*I didn't like Frollo at all, I found him to be a fucking creeper and I didn't sympathize at all with him, and I'm baffled as how people could love him. the stuff he did was sickening:— the attempted rape of Esmeralda, forcing her to love him, laughing when she was hanged, not even caring for his adopted son, Quasimodo, when he was being jeered by the crowd. He was nasty and I didn't feel for him at all, because he didn't deserve to be sympathized with. Esmeralda, as much as I liked her for being compassionate towards Quasimodo, was shallow and naive. I could have played a drinking game as to how many times she says Phoebus' name during her scenes. She was foolish and pathetically in love with Phoebus because he was handsome when really he was cold and lecherous and only wanted to get in her pants. Like Frollo, she thought that lust was love, when really it was not. The story was heart-breaking and tragic, it really showed how appearances and social positions in society can be deceiving, and how cruel it could be for individuals who were good. Overall rating is 4.5

Chiara Pagliochini

« Fatto che si abbia il male, bisogna farlo tutto quanto. È da pazzi sperare di fermarsi a un punto qualunque nel mostruoso! Il delitto spinto all’estremo ha deliri di gioia. »Avete presente quando, al mattino, vi svegliate con le migliori intenzioni e appoggiando il piede sul tappeto vi si stampa in faccia un’espressione di trionfo? Sentite che quella sarà una giornata straordinaria. Sentite che potete fare tutto. Poi infilate le ciabatte, andate in bagno e scoprite, per esempio, che lo scarico non funziona. O dalla doccia viene solo acqua fredda. Poi la caffettiera esplode macchiando tutta la cucina. E per tutto il tempo non potete fare a meno di dirvi, « Io m’ero svegliato con le migliori intenzioni, ma porca puttana ». Ecco, questa è la triste storia del mio rapporto con Notre-Dame de Paris. Ho divorato la prima metà (a detta di tutti, la più noiosa) in tre giorni; arrivata alla seconda metà (a detta di tutti, la più appassionante) ho cominciato a scivolare per una china di scetticismo, di perplessità, di trasecolamento. Non nego che Notre-Dame de Paris possa essere, per qualcuno, un ottimo e un piacevolissimo romanzo. Potrà essere il libro preferito di qualcuno. Potrà far ridere e far piangere. E non dico che occorra buttarlo giù dallo scaffale dei classici per far posto ad altro. Dico solo che a me non è piaciuto e vorrei spiegare il perché. Innanzitutto, non si deve pensare che non l’abbia apprezzato in qualche punto. Anzi, i punti che ho apprezzato li ho apprezzati talmente che mi ero illusa di accecarmi per non vedere tutto il resto. Quello che più colpisce di Notre-Dame è la grande forza potenziale del suo contenuto. Un contenuto denso come questo – un contenuto di scavo morale e spirituale – sarebbe fiorito, in mano a un altro scrittore, in un bocciolo fresco, sovversivo e profumato da star male. Penso a un Hawthorne, penso a un Dostoevskij, due penne che avrebbero fatto di questo nodo di peccato e perversione una scintilla per scuotere le viscere. Hugo ci prova, niente da dire, ma il tentativo non gli riesce fino in fondo. L’unica figura per la quale valga la pena di leggere Notre-Dame de Paris – vale a dire l’arcidiacono Frollo – avrebbe meritato un approfondimento e una diffusione di sentimento ben maggiori, ben più accurate. Un bravo scrittore, uno scrittore eccellente avrebbe raccolto Frollo, lo avrebbe cullato tra le braccia e, tenendolo sollevato così, gli avrebbe impedito di infradiciarsi la tonaca nel pantano di infidi cliché. Quanto mi dispiace per Frollo, quanto sinceramente mi dispiace per Frollo. Proviamo a consolarci così: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWCc2w...Un punto di forza di Hugo è quando si mette in testa di riuscire simpatico. Le scenette comiche, le macchiette, strappare una risata al lettore, questo è quello che gli riesce meglio. Ma in una tragedia non si suppone che sia la cosa che si apprezza maggiormente, no? È tanto bravo nella sua ironia che, anche nel dipingere gli ultimi drammatici istanti, non gli sfugge quel tocco di grottesco che spinge il lettore a chiedersi, « ma mi stai prendendo per il culo? ». Sono consapevole, acutamente consapevole di star dissacrando il sacro e vogliate capire che non lo faccio per divertimento. Lo faccio perché lo penso, il che mi rende ancora più spregevole. Particolarmente riusciti, in questo senso, sono i personaggi del capitano Febo e del poeta Gringoire, due maschioni meschini come non si poteva sceglierli meglio, ma così convincenti e volgari e divertiti dalla propria meschinità che in realtà mi sono sentita di parteggiare per loro. E sono poi loro, nella loro piccolezza, gli unici a non uscirne con le ossa rotte, come se Hugo stesse trasmettendo un velato messaggio subliminale: ‘o siete anime grandi e allora guarda la fine che fate; o siete anime piccine e tonte e allora vivete contente’. A pensarci bene, forse è il messaggio che vuol trasmettere. Se è così, Notre-Dame diventa un affresco tragico della contemporaneità. Due parole vanno spese sulla tanto celebre Esmeralda. Siamo sinceri: confessiamo tutti di averla vista nel cartone della Disney. Ecco, adesso dimentichiamola. Quella è un’altra storia. La Esmeralda di questa storia è una donna il cui unico pregio, a dirla tutta, è una grande e sensuale bellezza. Esmeralda è tutta bellezza, nient’altro. Per il resto una foglia sarebbe più spessa del suo spessore psicologico. Ai giorni nostri, Esmeralda sarebbe la ragazzina bella e svampita che fa girare le teste di tutti gli uomini un minimo sensibili – e di tutti quegli uomini ‘sensibili’ che pensano che dietro un bel faccino si nasconda sempre una bella anima. Ma questa ragazzina, che ve lo dico a fare, non è punto sensibile al fascino di nessuna anima grande con cui viene a contatto. Per Esmeralda l’amore della vita deve avere un solo requisito: deve essere bello. Esmeralda ama solo le cose che brillano, perché non ha unghie sufficientemente lunghe per grattar via la patina dalle cose opache. Non so se sia il più sincero e spietato ritratto femminile che sia mai stato dato o la punta estrema della misoginia. In questo senso, potremmo dire che la tragedia al cuore di Notre-Dame è anche un problema di immagine. E, se il cuore di questo romanzo è un problema d’immagine, capiamo anche quale sia il ruolo di Quasimodo. Per Quasimodo il lettore prova alternativamente pena e disprezzo. Hugo non è tenero con lui. Qualche volta indulge al patetico, ma è sempre troppo schietto per ammettere, « ma dai, anche se sei gobbo, hai un occhio solo, sei sordo, deforme e cattivo, ti voglio bene come personaggio ». Neanche Hugo è così ipocrita per questo. E la mancanza di ipocrisia, c’è da dirlo, è uno dei punti a favore di questo romanzo. Altre notarelle conclusive. Gli espedienti letterari prevedibilissimi, con travestimenti e agnizioni da tutte le parti. La pesantezza, in certi punti, del giudizio del narratore (caro Hugo, se scrivi un’altra volta ‘la sciagurata’, ti mettiamo dritto dritto sullo scaffale vicino ai Promessi Sposi, aperti sul formidabile inciso ‘La sventurata rispose’!). La critica incapacità di descrivere scene d’azione credibili. La parte che mi è piaciuta di più? Il capitolo sull’architettura come forma originaria di trasmissione del sapere umano. Quello lo farei studiare nelle scuole all’ora di storia dell’arte. Se prima pensavate che non avessi tutte le rotelle a posto, adesso potete star tranquilli. Avevate ragione.

Dellitt

I don't know how this is possible, but sometimes I forget that this is my favorite book in the whole world. Tragic (and wonderfully so) and hilarious and insightful (frighteningly so). The characters are so memorable and conflicted, it's wonderful. I can't decide if I would rather be with Quasimodo in the tower when he rings the bell or by the gargoyles looking over the city. Best book ever written in any language anywhere at any time.

Inês Beato

A escrita de Victor Hugo é absolutamente deliciosa e a forma como a trama principal da história foi construída é impressionante. É umLivro pesado, poderoso e com um final triste e de certa forma surpreendente. A única coisa que me aborreceu um pouco e que faz com que dê "apenas" quatro estrelas a esta obra de arte é o facto do autor por vezes divagar por assuntos que não são essenciais ao desenrolar da história, bem como capítulos inteiros dedicados à arte e arquitectura da catedral e de Paris, especialmente na primeira fase do livro, que cortam a acção e o ritmo desnecessariamente. Para além disso, gostaria de deixar também uma nota face à adaptação animada da Disney. Vejo muita gente a reagir a este filme com duas pedras na mão, criticando duramente o trabalho feito pelo gigante da animação. Eu sempre adorei este filme desde que ele saiu e depois de ler o livro que lhe serviu de inspiração, continuo a amá-lo. Ok, a estória foi bastante modificada, algumas personagens eliminadas e outras destacadas (e ainda bem, sempre deram mais vida e garra a esmeralda, que na minha modesta opinião é um pãozinho sem sal totó no livro, para além de que um Quasiomodo surdo no filme não faria grande sentido), e tornaram-na adequada a crianças, ainda que este seja sem dúvida o filme mais negro feito pela Disney. O enredo levou algumas voltas, mas no fundo a essência acaba por lá estar, sendo que é necessário estabelecer as devidas distâncias e não esquecer que o público do filme animado são crianças e a história não poderia/deveria nunca ser replicada à letra.

Emily Polson

*Sob*It's just too beautiful for words.

Dustin

What am I, completely dense?? I can't believe that I literally just realized that Victor Hugo also wrote Les Misérables..

Riley

This book would be a five star one if not for the fact that Victor Hugo insists upon describing everything and everyone in tedious detail, even, and perhaps most especially, when it is entirely irrelevant. I know part of it is probably just the style from back then, so I forgave it a bit. Also having read Les Miserables, I was already prepared for a bunch of details I could just skip in the writing. And skip them I did. As for the actual story, Hugo did not fail to impress me. While it was not, perhaps, as good as Les Miserables, the plot was still good, and the characters (for the most part) very well put together. Disney totally butchered this book, by the way. I tried watching the movie while reading this, and it was like two different stories. Frollo is not the definate "bad guy". Actually, I thought he was the best character, if not a bit weird and obsessive. All the characters are ambiguous. One could easily say that anyone was the villian, and all the others victims. Personally, Pheobus seemed like the villian to me. He was just a player, for lack of a better word.It would have better if Esmeralda had loved Quasimodo, Gringoire, or even Frollo. But as always, the pretty face got chosen before heart, brains, or passion. That's probably why this book is so good. In reality, pretty girls don't typically choose men that are best for them over the ones who are good looking. Which is a shame for all of them, because the story ultimately ends in sadness for all but of course, the hot guy(who deserves to fall off the roof of Notre-Dame or get hanged more than anyone) loses nothing. A lot of people will hate this book because of it's reality and bitterness, but I enjoyed it because of the fact. I have a host of new characters to enjoy (Jehan, Claude Frollo, Gringoire), and another very good classic under my belt. One thing suprised me, I didn't like Quasimodo as much as I anticipated. He seemed like someone I'd enjoy, and I didn't particularly. All in all, a good book. Just skip some of the descriptions, or get an abriged version, and you'll be fine.

Joe

"Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." This has created a theme that stories have focussed on for centuries. It is one that we try to teach different ways with more unique characters.When one first reads a synopsis of "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame", they would easily assume they will be reading another author's method of bringing this theme into their story. However, very shortly into the novel one finds that Quasimodo is not orginally this fully rejected outcast for his appearance. At the beginning of the novel he is actually being praised by a large crowd. His rejection comes as different incidences are misinterpreted and people begin to make the wrong assumptions.As the story continues on this happens to more characters than only Quasimodo. And other characters make mistakes by acting too quickly. It turns out that this story is about making the wrong judgements based on appearences. Only, it's not about the appearences of the characters, it's about the appearences of what is happening around our characters.When I noticed this, I realized that the whole book turned out to be about ignorance (the ignorance of the characters in what they were doing and the assumptions they made). If any of the characters would stop and figure out what had truly been happening, things would have been solved, but everytime this was a possibility they would make a new assumption and the problems would escalate. To me, the most stunning aspect of this was that the consequences did not only take effect on those that had been ignorant.In the same way, the end of the novel was only that upsetting if we remain ignorant of the fact that everything is finally brought to a close and those characters we care most about wanted something they could only come closest to through the way the novel ended (Hugo knew what he was doing in the titles of the chapters). Though it may be one of the most disturbing novels I've read, it has also taken it's place among my top ten favorites.

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