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MonkeyNotes-The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
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Chapter 55

Summary

Quasimodo becomes mad with rage when he realizes La Esmeralda has been taken away from her sanctuary. He helps the King’s men look for her, thinking they are friends rather than executioners. When the hunchback climbs to the highest tower of the cathedral to look out into the city, he sees Claude Frollo climbing the stairs and follows him unobserved. At the top of Notre Dame, the priest stops and looks out into the streets of Paris. Quasimodo looks out as well and sees a man climbing the steps of the Place de Greve, dragging a woman behind him. With a sinking heart, Quasimodo recognizes the woman as La Esmeralda. He watches in horror as she is tied to the gallows and the ladder is kicked out from under her. At the same moment, Claude Frollo laughs fiendishly. In reaction, Quasimodo runs towards the priest and pushes him off the balcony. For seemingly endless moments, Frollo dangles by his clothing and then drops nearly two hundred feet into the street below. Quasimodo is left alone in the tower to survey the city of Paris, the lifeless body of La Esmeralda, and the crumpled body of Claude Frollo. In supreme grief, he cries out, "This is all I ever loved!"


Notes

Quasimodo becomes a madman when he realizes that La Esmeralda has been stolen from her chambers. Hugo states that he is "more gloomy and thoughtful than a mother seated between an empty cradle and full coffin." Not realizing what is really happening, he believes that the soldiers are friends trying to help La Esmeralda and comes to their assistance. However, when he spies Frollo climbing the tower stairs, he is immediately suspicious and follows the priest. Arriving at the top of the tower, Frollo stops and looks down on the scene below, and Quasimodo does the same. It is then that he spies the gallows and sees his beloved being dragged to her death upon them. As the ladder is pulled out from underneath La Esmeralda, leaving her dangling to death, Frollo lets out a fiendish laugh, symbolic of his evil soul. Enraged at the reaction of the priest, Quasimodo charges him and knocks him off the balcony. Frollo falls to his death two hundred feet below. Suddenly, the disfigured hunchback is suddenly and completely alone in the world. Both the priest and La Esmeralda, the only two people that he has ever loved in life, are both dead.

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