Quasimodo (kah-zee-MOH-doh), a bellringer abandoned in infancy at Notre Dame Cathedral on Quasimodo Sunday, 1476, and now deaf from the din of the bells he rings. He is also unspeakably ugly, with tusk-like teeth and a wen over one eye, bristling red hair and eyebrows, and a snoutlike nose. Because of his horrible appearance, the Paris crowd selects him King of Fools for the Epiphany celebrations of 1482. During the carnival, he sees Esmeralda, the gypsy who dances before him. When he is later pilloried and beaten, she brings him a drink. From then on, he is her devoted slave and on several occasions saves her from Archdeacon Frollo, his benefactor. When she is hanged through Frollo’s scheming, he hurls the priest from the bell tower, then weeps at the death of the only two people he has ever loved. Years later, when the vault of Montfaucon, burial place of criminals, is opened, a skeleton of a woman in white is found in the arms of a misshapen man with a crooked spine. The bones disintegrate into dust when touched.
Esmeralda (ehz-meh-RAHL-dah), a lovely and kindhearted gypsy who possesses an amulet by which she hopes to find her family. She and her goat Djali dance to earn their living. Attracted to Captain Phoebus after he saves her from kidnapping, she agrees to a rendezvous in a house on the Pont St. Michel. There the officer is stabbed by Frollo, but Esmeralda is accused of the crime. Under torture, she confesses to everything and is sentenced to be hanged. With Quasimodo’s help, however, she escapes while confessing to Frollo and takes sanctuary in the church. Gringoire deceives her into leaving when the...
(The entire section is 711 words.)