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MonkeyNotes-The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
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Chapter 26

Summary

The crowd at Place de Greve grows, and people mill around awaiting Quasimodo’s punishment. The accused bell-ringer bears the humiliation of his upcoming punishment quietly; even when he is stripped to the waist and mocked for his deformities, he does not protest. At the end of his beating, Quasimodo sinks to the ground exhausted. The two attendants then wash his wounds and leave him in the pillory for one final hour.

The crowd begins to torment Quasimodo. They throw stones at him and watch him bleed, rejoicing in their own cruelty. When Quasimodo spies Claude Frollo in the crowd, he is sure he will be rescued. But Claude Frollo simply walks away, leaving Quasimodo heartbroken and despairing.

After awhile, Quasimodo begs for water, but no one responds. Finally La Esmeralda takes pity on him and gives him water. He is so relieved that he begins to cry. But from

Rolande’s tower, Sister Gudule curses La Esmeralda for her kindness.

Having seen enough, Mahiette and her companions start toward home.


Notes

Quasimodo becomes almost heroic in this chapter as he bears his humiliation and punishment silently, without complaint. The crowd taunts and teases him as he is stripped to the waist, revealing his deformity. As he is beaten, he remains silent. When he collapses after the punishment, the crowd humiliates him further by throwing rocks at him, causing Quasimodo to bleed even more; still the hunchback does not complain.

The cruelty of the crowd to Quasimodo is totally tragic. They prove themselves to be savage, crudely delighting in Quasimodo’s punishment simply because he is deformed. Though he has a beastly appearance, his tormentors prove they have beastly hearts.

Sadly, Claude Frollo is the worst of the group. When Quasimodo sees his master, he is delighted, for he is certain that the priest will come to his aid. Instead, Frollo turns and walks away without an offer of assistance or a word of kindness. In reality, Frollo should be on the pillory with Quasimodo, for he was equally as guilty of mistreating La Esmeralda. Instead, he walks away a free man. Amazingly, Quasimodo feels only sadness and despair - not ill will towards his master.

Once again La Esmeralda proves that she is basically a kind person. When Quasimodo begs for water, she comes to his aid when no one else in the crowd would bring him something to drink. He is so shocked by her action that he nearly forgets to drink the water that she brings to quench his unbearable thirst. Her kindness is ironic, for Quasimodo is on the pillory for mistreating La Esmeralda. It is also ironic that the two most despised people in the book, Quasimodo and La Esmeralda, behave in the most heroic manner.

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