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Chapters 3 and 4
The abrupt arrival of the Cardinal leaves Gringoire in despair. He fears that his play will never be finished. The audience, however, is enthralled with the arrival of the Cardinal, for they respect all dignitaries. As the Cardinal and Guillaume Rym, the Flemish Ambassador, exchange greetings, a man steps on stage and introduces himself as Jacque Coppenole, a hosier from Ghent. He is welcomed with great applause by the audience, for they consider him to be a member of their own class.
Gringoire unsuccessfully attempts to return the attention of the audience to his mystery play. He appeals to the Cardinal for help. The Cardinal, who is relieved to hear that the play is half over, proclaims that it should continue. Gringoire’s rejoicing is cut short, however, when the audience cannot understand what is happening and loses complete interest.
Jacques Coppenole rises from his seat again. Addressing the audience, he criticizes the play. He then talks about the procedure for the Election of the Pope of Fools in Ghent. People take turns putting their faces through a hole and smiling. The ugliest face is selected by applause and is named the Pope of Fools. The audience responds to Coppenhole’s explanation enthusiastically and forgets the play for good. Gringoire is devastated that his first drama has not been a success.
This chapter introduces Jacques Coppenole and develops Gringoire’s personality. Coppenole, who hails from Ghent, addresses the audience on two separate occasions. Since he is a plain fellow who talks simply, the audience identifies with him and receives him well. In contrast, the audience does not identify with Gringoire, for they cannot understand his play and have no desire for it to continue. Gringoire is terribly frustrated that the audience does not identify with his masterpiece.
Guillaume Rym, the Flemish Ambassador and right-hand man of King Louis XI, is also out of sorts. He is displeased over Coppenole’s appearance and his instant acceptance by the audience. He does not, however, confront Coppenole, for he feels helpless against his popularity.