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MonkeyNotes-The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
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Chapter 35

Summary

Since La Esmeralda never returns home after the stabbing of Phoebus, everyone in the Court of Miracles is concerned about her, especially Gringoire. One day as he wanders in the streets, he sees a huge gathering near the Palace of Justice and realizes a trial is about to take place. He listens as old woman on the witness stand talks about the crime that has taken place at the Pont St. Michel. Gringoire realizes with a terrible start that the accused is his dear wife, La Esmeralda.

From her seat, La Esmeralda begs to know if Phoebus is dead. She is told he is dying. She must then watch as Djali, her goat, is brought in as proof of her sorcery and crime. The King’s Proctor makes the goat perform all sorts of tricks. Finally, he detaches a bag of letters from around the goat’s neck. When he empties the bag, the goat carefully arranges the letters to form the name "Phoebus." La Esmeralda is found guilty and sentenced to torture. Gringoire watches in numb shock.


Notes

Since La Esmeralda never returns to the Court of Miracles after Phoebus is stabbed, Gringoire is miserable. He misses his wife terribly and feels like a lost soul. One day while he is wandering the streets in despair, he approaches the Palace of Justice, where a trial is about to take place. His heart falls to his feet when he realizes that La Esmeralda is on trial.

During the trial, the tricks that once made La Esmeralda popular now ironically convict her of a crime that she did not commit. Djali, the goat, is brought forward as "proof" of her sorcery and guilt. The animal easily forms the name "Phoebus" from a group of jumbled letters. The trick becomes a major contributing factor in proving the case against La Esmeralda. She is found guilty of the stabbing of Phoebus and sentenced to torture.

The chapter makes it clear that both Gringoire and La Esmeralda are truly in love - but not with each other. Although Gringoire has never stopped truly loving his wife, she cares for him only in a platonic way. Still he believes in her and knows in his heart that she is innocent. All of La Esmeralda’s emotions are wrapped up in Phoebus, as evidenced by her concern for his well being during her trial. She is not worried about what happens to her, but to the man she loves.

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