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Claude Frollo’s obsession with Esmeralda grows. When he discovers that Gringoire has married her, he is incensed. He manipulates his former student into telling him intimate details about La Esmeralda, including the fact that she is in love with Captain Phoebus. The priest, in disguise, goes to the Court of Miracles, where he observes La Esmeralda losing her virtue with Phoebus. In a rage, the priest stabs the captain and departs. Esmeralda faints out of fear; when she regains consciousness, she is arrested for the stabbing and is later sentenced to death by hanging.
As La Esmeralda is about to be executed, Quasimodo rescues her off of the pillory and carries her over his head into the cathedral for sanctuary. As long as she remains inside Notre-Dame, the authorities cannot come inside to seize her. Although she is amazed at his bravery, La Esmeralda cannot tolerate looking at Quasimodo’s disfigured face and body. In spite of her reactions, Quasimodo continues to protect her and care for her. When Frollo enters her cell and tries to force himself upon her, Quasimodo fights him, keeping him away by force. When La Esmeralda reveals to the hunchback that she is in love with Phoebus, he agrees to go and find the captain and bring him to Notre-Dame to see the gypsy girl; but Phoebus laughs at Quasimodo and refuses to see La Esmeralda.
Since La Esmeralda has repeatedly rejected him, Frollo decides that no one will have her. He devises a wicked plan to take La Esmeralda from the tower and enlists the help of her husband, Gringoire, to carry out his plan. Gringoire organizes the gypsies in the Court of Miracles to rescue La Esmeralda, and they march towards Notre-Dame. Quasimodo sees the mob approaching and prepares to fight them, thinking they are coming to harm La Esmeralda. When they break through the door of the great cathedral, Quasimodo throws a beam, rocks, and molten lead at them, killing several people in the process. As the King’s army arrives, the gypsies retreat. Quasimodo rushes up to the tower to check on La Esmeralda and discovers that she is gone. Although he does not know what has happened to her, Gringoire and Frollo have managed to steal her away.
Back in the tower, Quasimodo finds Frollo as he watches the events taking place on the pillory. When the hunchback looks down to see what is happening, he sees his beloved La Esmeralda being dragged to the gallows. He then watches in horror as she is hanged. When the priest lets out a fiendish laugh about her death, Quasimodo goes crazy. The hunchback charges the priest and throws him off the tower’s balcony to his death below. With both La Esmeralda and Frollo dead before his eyes, Quasimodo cries out that he has lost everyone whom he has ever loved. The hunchback then disappears, never to be seen in Paris again.
In the final chapter, Hugo ties up all the loose ends of the novel. Gringoire, who lives alone with his goat, becomes a successful writer; Phoebus marries Fleur de Lys; and King Louis XI dies. Then two years after the death of La Esmeralda, the body of Quasimodo is found. When the vault at Montfaucon is opened, the soldiers find the skeleton of the hunchback intertwined with the skeleton of La Esmeralda. In grieving himself to death, Quasimodo eternally united himself with the one he loved.