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MonkeyNotes-The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
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Chapter 50

Summary

Worrying about La Esmeralda, Quasimodo is unable to sleep. Though he has taken every precaution to keep the gypsy’s cell safe and secure, the attack by Frollo has made him nervous. In his restlessness, he climbs up into one of the towers of the cathedral to look out at the city of Paris. As he surveys the area surrounding Notre-Dame, he notices a multitude of people making their way toward the cathedral. He is afraid they are coming to harm La Esmeralda.

When the citizens from the Court of Miracles arrive at Notre- Dame, they announce that they will plunder the church unless La Esmeralda is released to them. Since there is no response, they enter through the great door of the church and begin ascending the staircase. Suddenly, an enormous beam falls from the sky and crushes a dozen of the approaching gypsies. As the others continue, they are pelted with rocks. Then two streams of molten lead destroy more of the group. At first, the superstitious gypsies think that the moon is attacking them, but they soon see Quasimodo at the top of the stairs as he tries to fend them off.

Jehan Frollo arrives with a ladder and climbs it in an effort to find La Esmeralda. When Quasimodo stops him, the two men fight, and Jehan is killed. The remaining mob of gypsies is incensed and grows more violent. They start a fire on the cathedral’s platform, which illuminates the whole area. As alarms begin to ring, the attackers approach the gallery. Quasimodo sinks in despair.


Notes

Quasimodo’s shift in allegiance from Notre-Dame to La Esmeralda is clearly apparent in this chapter. In his devotion to the beautiful gypsy girl, the hunchback becomes like a "guard dog." He constantly keeps a watchful eye out on her chambers, fearing another attack by Frollo or others. When he sees a mob of people approaching Notre-Dame, he fears for La Esmeralda’s safety and prepares for battle, like a warrior. When the gypsies from the Court of Miracles break into the cathedral, they are met by beams, rocks, and molten lead thrown by Quasimodo as he tries to protect the girl that he loves. He protects her without a thought about the damage being done to the great cathedral. When he effortlessly overcomes and kills Jehan, he is viewed as heroic rather than villainous. When the tide of the battle turns against him and he sinks in despair, the reader is meant to feel sympathy for him.

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