The Hunchback of Notre Dame

by Victor Hugo

Book Fourth, Chapter 4

Additional Information
  • Year Published: 1831
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: France
  • Source: Hapsgood, I., trans. (1831). The Hunchback of Notre Dame. New York: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard.
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 12.0
  • Word Count: 421
  • Genre: Romance
  • Keywords: culture, fate, love, loyalty
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Nevertheless, there was one human creature whom Quasimodo excepted from his malice and from his hatred for others, and whom he loved even more, perhaps, than his cathedral: this was Claude Frollo.

The matter was simple; Claude Frollo had taken him in, had adopted him, had nourished him, had reared him. When a little lad, it was between Claude Frollo's legs that he was accustomed to seek refuge, when the dogs and the children barked after him. Claude Frollo had taught him to talk, to read, to write. Claude Frollo had finally made him the bellringer. Now, to give the big bell in marriage to Quasimodo was to give Juliet to Romeo.

Hence Quasimodo's gratitude was profound, passionate, boundless; and although the visage of his adopted father was often clouded or severe, although his speech was habitually curt, harsh, imperious, that gratitude never wavered for a single moment. The archdeacon had in Quasimodo the most submissive slave, the most docile lackey, the most vigilant of dogs. When the poor bellringer became deaf, there had been established between him and Claude Frollo, a language of signs, mysterious and understood by themselves alone. In this manner the archdeacon was the sole human being with whom Quasimodo had preserved communication. He was in sympathy with but two things in this world: Notre– Dame and Claude Frollo.

There is nothing which can be compared with the empire of the archdeacon over the bellringer; with the attachment of the bellringer for the archdeacon. A sign from Claude and the idea of giving him pleasure would have sufficed to make Quasimodo hurl himself headlong from the summit of Notre– Dame. It was a remarkable thing—all that physical strength which had reached in Quasimodo such an extraordinary development, and which was placed by him blindly at the disposition of another. There was in it, no doubt, filial devotion, domestic attachment; there was also the fascination of one spirit by another spirit. It was a poor, awkward, and clumsy organization, which stood with lowered head and supplicating eyes before a lofty and profound, a powerful and superior intellect. Lastly, and above all, it was gratitude. Gratitude so pushed to its extremest limit, that we do not know to what to compare it. This virtue is not one of those of which the finest examples are to be met with among men. We will say then, that Quasimodo loved the archdeacon as never a dog, never a horse, never an elephant loved his master.