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Esmeralda is one of the main characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a young adult around the age of sixteen. Her real name is Agnès—Esmeralda refers to the paste emerald that she wears around her neck—and she lives in Paris with the family of gypsies who raised her.

Esmeralda is a very beautiful young lady who attracts the attention of men wherever she goes—most notably the Monseigneur of Notre Dame, Claude Frollo, who's developed an obsession with her. Indeed, so obsessed is Frollo with Esmeralda that he orders his adopted son, Quasimodo, to kidnap her.

Yet Quasmodo eventually turns against Frollo and protects Esmeralda from his unwelcome advances. After being framed for murder, Esmeralda seeks sanctuary in Notre Dame in order to avoid being hanged. After getting wind that the authorities plan to storm the cathedral to take Esmeralda by force, a large mob of gypsies descends upon the famous church in a bid to rescue her. But Quasimodo thinks they've come to harm his beloved Esmeralda, so he fights them off.

In the meantime, Frollo presents Esmeralda with an ultimatum: either she can give herself to him, or he will hand her over to the authorities. Esmeralda would rather die than live with such shame, and so she, along with her long-lost mother, Gudule, are taken away to be hanged. After a brief struggle with the guards, Gudule falls and hits her head on the ground, which kills her. But Esmeralda calmly accepts her fate and goes to her death without any fuss. Later on, Quasimodo, heartbroken at the loss of Esmeralda, goes to her grave, where he embraces her corpse while slowly starving to death.

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