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MonkeyNotes-The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
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Chapter 18

Summary

In this chapter, the narrative shifts back to the present of 1482. The deformed Quasimodo has become the bell-ringer at the cathedral, and Claude Frollo has become the archdeacon of Josas.

Over the years, Claude Frollo tried to teach Quasimodo to talk; but his years of ringing the bells robbed the hunchback of his hearing and his speech. As a result of his deformity, his deafness, and his muteness, Quasimodo seldom leaves the church, and his presence is felt everywhere in Notre-Dame. The statues in the cathedral become his only companions; he enjoys their company immensely, for they do not bear any malice towards him, like the people do. But Quasimodo’s greatest happiness comes from the bells of Notre-Dame. Several times each day, Quasimodo looks forward to receiving the signal from Frollo that it is time to ring the bells. He runs of the staircase to eagerly perform his duty. As he rings the fifteen tower bells, they seem to awaken his imprisoned soul. His favorite bell is the largest one, which he has named Mary.


Notes

In this chapter, Quasimodo is developed more fully. Raised by Frollo in the cathedral, Notre-Dame becomes his haven. Since he is deformed, deaf, and mute, Quasimodo seldom ventures outside the walls of the great building. As a result, he develops a deep attachment to the cathedral and thinks of the statues as his true companions. There seems to be a perfect harmony between the hunchback and the building that holds him; it is like they become one in form and nature.

Quasimodo becomes the bell ringer of Notre-Dame, a job that he thoroughly enjoys. He looks forward each time to climbing the staircase to the tower and communicating with the fifteen bells. Since he cannot hear, Quasimodo thrills at feeling the bells ring; their vibrations bring him to life.

It is a tragic irony that the bells that he loves have totally robbed him of his hearing and speech; but in his deafness, he is at least spared from hearing the unkind remarks that others make about his appearance. But the bells, like his ugliness, serve to cut him off from society, making him more of an outcast.

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