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MonkeyNotes-The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
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Chapter 12

Summary

Having escaped the mischief of the boys, Gringoire runs through the streets, stopping only when he is exhausted. He falls in with a group of blind men and beggars, who lead him to their resting- place, called The Court of Miracles. His new companions offer to introduce him to their leader. Gringoire is shocked to see that the leader is the same beggar who first disrupted his play. The leader, who tries to act like royalty, tells Gringoire that his name is Clopin Trouillefou, the King of Thunes and supreme ruler of the realm of Slang. He says that Gringoire will be punished for entering the beggars’ territory without being one of his subjects unless he can either perform an acceptable trick or one of the beggar women offers to marry him. At that moment, La Esmeralda comes forward and says she will marry him. She gives Gringoire a jug that he is to drop on the ground. When he follows her instructions and the jug breaks into four pieces, they are pronounced husband and wife.


Notes

In this chapter, Hugo creates a mythical underworld that seems mysterious and surreal. In their struggle for survival, the outcasts of society have come together. The dark world of the beggars and gypsies, ironically called the Court of Miracles, has become an established outlaw society within the society. They have their own king, hierarchy, and rules; but every man is also out for himself. These outcasts are cruel, crude, and unkind, even to each other. Even though Hugo paints a dark picture of the Court of Miracles, he is clearly sympathetic to the plight of the poor people who live there.

The society of The Court of Miracles has a strange set of customs and rules, which are totally different from the general social norms. When Gringoire is brought before Trouillefou, the leader of the outcasts, he is accused of trespassing, for he is not one of them. He is given two opportunities of escape. The first is to perform an impossible trick, a task that he fails. The second opportunity is to find one of the beggar/gypsy women who will marry him. Amazingly, La Esmeralda steps forward to come to

Gringoire’s rescue. She immediately offers to take him as her husband. When he drops a jug, which breaks into four pieces, they are married.

A new side of La Esmeralda is seen in this chapter. When she agrees to marry Gringoire, a man she hardly knows, she proves her kindness. She seems to be a much better person than the other characters in the clan of outcasts. As a result, she garners respect and appreciation from everyone, including the King of the Thunes.

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