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Claude Frollo
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame character
Claude Frollo holding infant Quasimodo on the steps of Notre Dame in 1480. Art by Luc-Olivier Merson.
Created byVictor Hugo
OccupationArchdeacon of Notre Dame cathedral
AffiliationMembers of the church
FamilyJehan Frollo (younger brother)
Significant otherEsmeralda
ChildrenQuasimodo (adopted son)

Monseigneur Claude Frollo (French: [klod fʁɔlo]) is the main antagonist from Victor Hugo's 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (known in French as Notre-Dame de Paris). He is the Archdeacon of Notre Dame.

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In the novel

Dom Claude Frollo is a pious and highly knowledgeable man who was orphaned along with his younger brother Jehan when their parents died of the plague. His studies led him to become the Archdeacon of Josas, which is his position during the events of the novel. He also has a small fief which brings him a little money, most of which goes to fund his brother's alcoholism.

During a holiday at Notre Dame called Quasimodo Sunday, he rescues a deformed hunchback child whom he finds abandoned on the cathedral's foundlings bed. He adopts the boy, names him "Quasimodo" after the holiday, raises him like a son, and teaches him a sort of sign language when Quasimodo is deafened by the cathedral’s bells. Frollo is a respected scholar and studies several languages, law, medicine, science and theology. However, he becomes infatuated with alchemy, which leads townspeople to spread the rumor that he is a sorcerer. He also believes strongly in fate. All this, along with his extreme and irrational fear of women, contribute further to his isolation from society.

Frollo also has strong passions, even though he is a celibate due to his station within the church. These passions erupt in him through his contact with the beautiful Romani girl Esméralda, and eventually they prove his undoing. He considers her to be a temptation sent by the Devil to test his faith, and curses her as a demon. He finds he cannot resist her, however, and determines to give in to temptation. Esmeralda, however, is repulsed by his advances. Frollo orders Quasimodo to abduct her, and then abandons him when the hunchback is suddenly captured by Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers and his guards. Frollo even ignores Quasimodo when he sees him being publicly humiliated for the crime. When Frollo discovers that Esmeralda is in love with Phoebus, he spies on the meeting between them which Esmeralda has arranged – with Phoebus' consent, as Phoebus only wants one night of passion. As Phoebus and Esmeralda are about to make love, Frollo, in a jealous rage, stabs Phoebus, and kisses Esmeralda when she faints before fleeing.

Frollo does not attempt to intercede when Esmeralda is turned over to the magistrate on charges of witchcraft and attempted murder, but he stabs himself during her torture and shows her the wound as a proof of his love for her. She is unmoved, however, as she is still in love with Phoebus. Shortly before the day she is to be executed, Frollo leaves Paris in a feverish madness, not realizing that Quasimodo – who is also in love with her – has rescued her from the gallows. When he returns to the news that Esmeralda is still alive, he becomes as jealous of Quasimodo as he was of Phoebus. Frollo later attempts to rape her at her sanctuary in the cathedral, but Quasimodo – who doesn't realize who Esmeralda's attacker is at first – comes to the girl's defense and beats him up. Angered and humiliated, Frollo decides to rid himself of Esmeralda by handing her over to the authorities.

Frollo's time comes when a group of scoundrels, enraged by news that the French monarchy has ordered Esmeralda to be taken from the cathedral and hanged within three days, arms themselves to assault Notre Dame Cathedral. While Quasimodo is busy fighting off the scoundrels, Pierre Gringoire, Esmeralda's husband – whom she only married to save his life – and a hooded figure sneak into the Cathedral and convince Esmeralda to sneak out with them. The man's face is hidden behind a hood, leaving Esmeralda to guess his identity. They flee to a boat on the River Seine, then separate when they head to shore, with Gringoire taking her goat, Djali, and leaving Esmeralda with the unknown man. The hooded figure drags Esmeralda to a nearby gallows and identifies himself as Frollo by removing his hood.

Frollo issues Esmeralda his final ultimatum: either she must accept his lust, or he shall hand her over to the authorities. She rejects him, so he leaves her to an anchoress to hold her for the royal soldiers coming to hang her and goes back to Notre Dame Cathedral. He then walks up to one of the cathedral's towers to watch the girl being hanged, unaware that Quasimodo has spotted him and followed him upstairs. He watches calmly while Esmeralda is taken to the gallows.

When Quasimodo sees him laughing at Esmeralda's hanging, he becomes enraged and pushes Frollo off the balustrade. A gargoyle stops his fall, and he cries out to Quasimodo for help, but Quasimodo remains silent. Then Frollo falls down off the cathedral, colliding with the roof of a house. He slides down the roof, hits the pavement of the town square and dies.[1]


Victor Hugo's novel has been adapted to film on numerous occasions. Due to policy of the NAMPI Thirteen Points,[2] the filmmakers of the 1923 film adaptation would not portray a member of the Roman Catholic Church in a negative and controversial light. As a result, Claude Frollo is not the villain, but instead a good-hearted archdeacon of Notre Dame, and the villain of the film is actually his younger brother Jehan. The 1939 film had a similar change for the same reason due to policy of the Hays Production Code;[2][3] the only difference is that Claude is portrayed as the Archbishop of Paris and Jehan is portrayed as King Louis XI's High Justice of Paris. In Disney's 1996 animated film, Claude Frollo is a judge and the Minister of Justice of Paris (and the villain as in the novel), the Archdeacon of Notre Dame is a separate character entirely, and the character of Jehan is omitted.

Among the actors who played Claude Frollo over the years in each adaptation of the novel are:

Actor Version
Claude Garry The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1911 film)
Walter Law The Darling of Paris (1917 film)
Annesley Healy Esmeralda (1922 film)
Nigel DeBrulier The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923 film)
Walter Hampden[4][5][6] The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939 film)
Alain Cuny The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956 film)
James Maxwell (voice) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1966 animated TV series)
Kenneth Haigh The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1977 TV series)
Derek Jacobi The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982 TV film)
Ron Haddrick (voice) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1986 animated film)
Vlasta Vrána (voice) The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo (1996 animated TV series)
Tony Jay (voice) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996 Disney animated film)
Richard Harris The Hunchback (1997 TV film)
Daniel Lavoie Notre Dame de Paris (1997-2002 musical)
Richard Berry (as Serge Frollo) Quasimodo d'El Paris (1999 parody film)
Patrick Page The Hunchback of Notre Dame (2014-2015 musical)

Disney version

Judge Claude Frollo
Disney character
First appearanceThe Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Created byKathy Zielinski
Dominique Monféry
Voiced byTony Jay
Minister of Justice
ChildrenClaudine Frollo (Descendants)

In Disney's 1996 animated film version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Judge Claude Frollo was voiced by Tony Jay, whom directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale chose for the role based on his brief appearance in their previous film, Beauty and the Beast (1991). Kathy Zielinski served as the supervising animator for Frollo. The character's features were inspired by those of the actor Hans Conreid, specifically his appearance in the 1953 film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.[7] The film's producer, Don Hahn, stated that the character of Frollo was inspired by Ralph Fiennes' performance as Amon Göth from Schindler's List, "who murders Jews yet desires his Jewish maid."[8] Screenwriter Tab Murphy made Frollo Paris' judge/justice minister rather than an archdeacon so as not to offend religious viewers.[9]

Frollo is portrayed in the film as a ruthless, self-righteous religious fanatic who seeks to annihilate Paris' Gypsy population, considering them "heathen" who "live outside the natural order". Trousdale described the film's Frollo as "a horrible, horrible person", while Jay compared him to Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.[7]

Appearance in the film

In the beginning of the film, Frollo and his men capture a group of Gypsy peasants attempting to sneak into Paris on a boat. He inadvertently kills a woman in the group after chasing her as she tries to illegally enter Paris with a baby in tow. Upon seeing the baby's deformity, Frollo tries to drown the child in a nearby well, but Notre Dame's Archdeacon stops him and demands that he raise the child as penance for his crime. Fearing divine retribution, Frollo reluctantly agrees to raise the child in Notre Dame as his son, in hopes that the hunchback will someday prove useful to him. He names the child "Quasimodo", which means "half-formed", and forbids him to leave the cathedral, teaching him that the outside world is wicked and sinful and that people will shun him for his deformity. He also lies to Quasimodo about his mother, claiming that she abandoned him when he was a baby and that someone would have drowned him if Frollo hadn't taken him in.

Twenty years later, in the Palace of Justice, Frollo appoints a new Captain of the Guard, Phoebus, stating his intent to eradicate the city's Gypsy population by discovering their sanctuary, the "Court of Miracles". While attending the annual Festival of Fools, Frollo discovers Esmeralda, who dances in front of him and kisses him on the nose. At the same time, he discovers that Quasimodo left the bell tower and joined the Festival, where he was crowned the King of Fools. Frollo refuses to help Quasimodo when he is being humiliated in public by the crowd; in fact, he refuses Phoebus' request to stop the spectacle, and it infuriates him when Esmeralda defiantly decides to assist Quasimodo. Esmeralda ridicules Frollo, who immediately orders her arrested, just before she claims sanctuary within Notre Dame. Frollo then imprisons Esmeralda inside the cathedral, telling her that if she sets one foot outside, she will be arrested, and he posts his guards at Notre Dame's doors.

Later that night in the chamber of the Palace of Justice, Frollo lusts after Esmeralda, and begs the Virgin Mary to save him from her "spell". Frollo asks God to have mercy on both him and Esmeralda, and resolves that "she will be mine, or she will burn". When one of Frollo's guards informs him that she escaped, Frollo and his men go on a citywide search for her, even going as far as capturing and bribing Romani people, and burning people's houses while trying to extract information about Esmeralda's whereabouts. Frollo orders Phoebus to execute a miller and his family for not cooperating in telling him of Esmeralda's location. Phoebus refuses to carry out his order, and so Frollo burns the windmill with the family inside before Phoebus rescues them. Frollo sentences Phoebus to death for insubordination. While fleeing, Phoebus is struck by an arrow and falls into the River Seine, but Esmeralda rescues him just in time and takes him to Notre Dame for refuge.

Frollo returns to Notre Dame and discovers that Quasimodo helped Esmeralda escape. He lies to Quasimodo, saying that he knows about the Court of Miracles and that he intends to attack at dawn. Quasimodo accompanies Phoebus to the Court to warn Esmeralda, and Frollo and his men follow them and arrest the Gypsies. Frollo realizes that Phoebus is alive and has him and the Gypsies locked up, and imprisons Quasimodo in the bell tower. Frollo sentences Esmeralda to death, but offers to spare her life if she becomes his lover. When a disgusted Esmeralda spits in his face, Frollo orders Esmeralda burned at the stake.

Quasimodo rescues her and brings her to the cathedral. Frollo orders his soldiers to seize the cathedral. Phoebus releases the Gypsies and rallies the citizens of Paris against Frollo and his men, who try to break into the cathedral. Quasimodo pours molten lead onto the streets to ensure no one enters, but Frollo manages to get inside. Frollo attempts to kill Quasimodo, resulting in a violent struggle in which Quasimodo overpowers Frollo and throws him to the floor. Frollo pursues Quasimodo and Esmeralda to the ledge of the cathedral, and taunts Quasimodo with the truth about his mother. Frollo subsequently uses his cape to knock Quasimodo off of the balcony, but Quasimodo manages to hold on and ends up pulling Frollo along with him. Frollo climbs onto a gargoyle and raises his sword to strike, but the gargoyle crumbles underneath him, causing him to lose his balance and hang on to the statue for dear life. He then sees the gargoyle's face transform into that of the Devil himself. Frightened, Frollo screams as the gargoyle crumbles and collapses, sending him falling to his death in the molten lead below.

Other appearances

See also


  1. ^ Hugo, Victor (1831). The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1993 ed.). Ware, Hertfordshire, England: Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 978-1853260681 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b Gilchrist, Marianne M. (July 16, 2010). "Notre Damned: With adaptations, fidelity is a virtue". OurDailyRead. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  3. ^ Pfieffer, Lee. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)". Britannica Online.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)".
  6. ^ "Hunchbackofnotredame".
  7. ^ a b Watson, Grant (June 4, 2014). ""Let her be mine and mine alone" - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)". FictionMachine. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  8. ^ Thompson, Anna; Karger, Dave (June 21, 1996). "Playing a Hunch". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  9. ^ Mancini, Marc (April 12, 2016). "10 Facts About Disney's The Hunchback Of Notre Dame". Mental Floss. New York City: Dennis Publishing. Retrieved June 30, 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 20 January 2019, at 04:21
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