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Chapters 28 and 29
Claude Frollo goes to the tower of the cathedral daily, remaining there from sunset through the night. On this day the sounds of the tambourine reach him, and when he looks out, he sees La Esmeralda. Her assistant seems familiar to Frollo. He realizes that it is Gringoire, his former student. As Frollo hurries down from the tower, he passes Quasimodo, who is also watching La Esmeralda.
By the time Frollo reaches the street, La Esmeralda has departed; but the priest calls to Gringoire, who loses his balance and falls into the crowd from the surprise of hearing his name. When Claude Frollo questions him about how he came to work with the gypsy, Gringoire tells him of his hunger and the incidents that led to his marriage. Frollo is clearly upset and cross-examines Gringoire to gather all the details. Gringoire admits that he and La Esmeralda live together platonically. He also reveals that La Esmeralda is in love with Phoebus. Frollo, pretending to be concerned for Gringoire’s welfare, urges him to keep his hands off of the gypsy.
Inside the cathedral, Quasimodo is despondent. His bells no longer comfort or please him. He is miserable because he is in love and knows that no woman would ever love him.
Because of La Esmeralda, the plot of the novel begins to quickly intensify. In this chapter, Hugo presents the affect that the gypsy has on Frollo, Quasimodo, and Gringoire.
Frollo is obsessed with La Esmeralda and watches her from his tower. When he sees Gringoire, his former student, serving as the assistant of the gypsy, he rushes from the tower to question the man. He manipulates his way into Gringoire’s confidences to learn about her. He pretends to be concerned for Gringoire, but he is really only interested in La Esmeralda. When Gringoire tells Frollo that La Esmeralda is afraid of him because he is a priest, he is upset. He is even more disturbed to learn that she is in love with Phoebus.
La Esmeralda has definitely changed Gringoire. He has accepted his relationship with his wife and easily tells Frollo that their marriage is platonic. He has also adapted to his new life with the gypsies and enjoys being La Esmeralda’s assistant and co- performer. He justifies his new existence over his academic one, claiming that he feels alive for the first time. Unfortunately, Gringoire trusts Frollo and his motives. He does not sense that the priest has an unhealthy obsession for La Esmeralda. As a result, when the priest questions him, Gringoire shares some confidential information about his wife with Frollo. The revelation that La Esmeralda loves Phoebus definitely complicates the plot, for the priest feels instant jealousy for the man.
Quasimodo is also in love with La Esmeralda, but his emotions make him miserable, for he knows that no woman could ever love him. No longer do the bells of the cathedral give him any happiness. The hunchback can only dream about the gypsy girl who was kind to him and gave him water.