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MonkeyNotes-The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
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Chapters 23 and 24

Summary

These two chapters introduce the Provost of Paris, Robert d’Estouteville, and the deaf auditor, Master Florian. These men are in the Chatelet, or Court of Justice, where a large crowd has assembled for the trial of Quasimodo, who is well-guarded. Jehan Frollo is in the audience.

As the auditor announces the charges against Quasimodo, the audience laughs at the irony of a deaf man being accused by a deaf auditor. The laughter makes the auditor indignant and blames Quasimodo, accusing him of disrespect. The Provost takes over as Judge and punishes Quasimodo for his irrelevant and seemingly mocking answers, which are actually the result of his inability to communicate. The Provost sentences the hunchback to undergo an immediate and severe beating at the pillory in the Place de Greve.

Before Quasimodo is punished, four sergeants on horseback park themselves at the four corners of the pillory. Then a large crowd begins to gather in the plaza. Overlooking the plaza is Rolande’s Tower, which serves as the home of orphaned and afflicted women. Engraved below the window in the tower are the Roman words, "Pray Thou."


Notes

There is a clear tragic element in these chapters as the deaf auditor announces the charges against the deaf hunchback of Notre-Dame. When the audience laughs about the irony of the situation, Quasimodo is blamed for being disrespectful. When the judge questions Quasimodo, he struggles to try and give answers, but they often do not make sense and seem irrelevant because of his inability to communicate. The amused onlookers, goading the officials, express disgust for authority while at the same time taking delight in the treatment of the hunchback. In the end, the judge accuses Quasimodo of total disrespect and sentences him to a severe beating at the pillory in the Place de Greve. Quasimodo helplessly accepts the sentencing, unable to offer a defense or protest.

In their conducting of the proceedings and their treatment of Quasimodo, the auditor, Master Florian, and the judge, Provost d’Estouteville, prove that they are pitiless men who suffer from a high degree of self-esteem. The common people who watch the proceedings prove that they have little respect for government officials.

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