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MonkeyNotes-The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
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Chapter 30

Summary

Jehan Frollo, in need of money, goes to see his brother Claude, who is in his room at the top of the tower. When Jehan arrives, he is not immediately seen by the priest; therefore, he able to observe his brother unnoticed.

The room in which Claude cloisters himself contains a large furnace, a glass mask, and various strange pieces of equipment. A number of inscriptions are written on the walls in Gothic, Hebrew, Greek, and Roman languages, all mixed together. As Jehan watches, Claude Frollo reads aloud from a manuscript, occasionally speaking to himself on matters of alchemy. For a moment, he sinks into a chair and rests his head on a table; he then jumps up and writes the word ANATKH on the wall.

Jehan slips away and then makes a noise as he reappears, alerting Claude Frollo to his arrival. The priest is surprised to see his brother and asks him why he has come. Jehan tells his brother he needs money to purchase buskins. Claude refuses to help his brother and berates Jehan, telling him that he is worthless. He even lists all of the complaints he has heard about Jehan. Angry that his brother will not help him, Jehan tries to upset the priest. He states that he knows the meaning of the word written on the wall. Claude turns pale when Jehan says that the word means "fatality."

Wanting to silence Jehan, the priest agrees to buy him new buskins instead of giving him money. Jehan argues, insisting on money. When the priest hears footsteps approaching, he tells Jehan to hide. Jehan says he will only hide if Claude gives him the money. The priest gives in to his brother one more time.


Notes

This chapter introduces the scheming and despicable nature of Jehan Frollo. He comes to the cathedral in hopes of getting money from his brother. When he finds Claude in his tower room, he does not announce his presence. Instead, he spies on his brother for awhile and watches him write a strange word on the wall. At the appropriate time Jehan sneaks away and reappears, making his brother notice him. When the priest asks why he has come, Jehan says that he needs money to buy buskins. Claude refuses and berates his brother for his worthlessness. Jehan then mercilessly manipulates his brother. He tells the priest that he knows that the word on the wall means "fatality" and hints that he understands the implication behind it. In order to silence his brother, Claude offers to buy Jehan some buskins; but that is not good enough for Jehan, for he wants cash.

An element of true mystery is introduced at the end of the chapter. When the priest hears footsteps climbing in the tower, he tells his brother to hide. Jehan, again manipulating Claude, says he will hide only if the priest gives him money. When Claude agrees, Jehan cooperates and disappears out of sight. The reader is left to wonder who is in the tower and why Claude feels he must hide his brother.

Even though Hugo does not clearly state the meaning behind the Greek word "anatkh", which means fatality, the reader assumes that the priest has been jealously thinking about Phoebus and plotting a way to be rid of him. Hugo incorporates this word into his novel because he actually saw the Greek work carved into the wall in one of the towers of Notre-Dame during one of his visits there.

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