Like many, my only exposure to the Hunchback has been through TV caricatures and the Disney bastardization. Forever distrustful of the Mouse Ears, I didn t know what to expect reading the real deal. Hugo is an awesome storyteller. While perhaps he could be guilty of rambling on at several points, his descriptions of 15 th century Paris are vivid. His writing is very intriguing, he always struck my curiosity.
I found myself empathizing with the pitiable situations of the Hunchback and his beauty, and even with the bad guy pathetic as he was. I also found myself thinking If only THIS had happened! ! ! ! that is the fingerprint of a good book. But Hugo s strongest aspect is his amazing characters. Claude Frollo is holy enough to take care of an abandoned and deformed child, yet – despite his virtue – he can t control his sexual frustrations to La Esmeralda.
It is also interesting that despite the kindness Quasimodo shows toward her, she can hardly look at him. Hugo increases our sorrow when Quasimodo sees her beauty and feels all the more ugly: I never realized how ugly I am until now. Another great aspect of this book is that even though Frollo shows his dark side, Hugo does not permit us to forget his good points (Especially the part where we see the ingratitude of Frollo s delinquent brother after all the kindness he treated him with).
Another wonderful thing about this book is how its puts you right there with the character, and I found myself feeling what they probably would ve been feeling. Tears fell from my eyes when Pacquette found her long lost Daughter and how she defended Esmeralda from the gallows. Even without any motherly instincts whatsoever I felt how great it would be to be reunited with my daughter and how heartbreaking at the same time to see her die right before my eyes, I would have given my own life too had I been Pacquette.
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The harsh ending where Quasimodo sees everything he loved destroyed and leaves the cathedral in pure sorrow left me silent. This book (whose, in my opinion, its basic story comes from the bible) has everything it takes to make it phenomenal. A wanted child lost, Esmeralda. An unwanted child found, Quasimodo. A true King that is not a King, a beggar King who is truly a King; a lustful priest who would give up everything to have her; a husband made into a brother who would only take from her; a lover who could have her but doesn t want her and a mother who does not have her but desperately wants her. Oh and a dancing goat.