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Feeling he could not watch La Esmeralda’s execution, Claude Frollo left the gallows after confronting the gypsy. As a result, he is unaware that Quasimodo saved La Esmeralda. Nearly mad with grief about losing her, the pale Frollo wanders the streets of Paris.
Eventually he reaches Pont St. Michel, where he sees a young man with a prostitute and the old woman who testified against La Esmeralda. Drawing closer, Frollo is shocked to see that the young man is his brother Jehan. When Jehan does not even acknowledge him, the priest turns and runs toward Notre Dame. Arriving home, he takes refuge in his reading. After awhile Frollo decides to find Quasimodo in the tower. As he nears the top of the stairs, he sees a pale female form walking in the shadows with what appears to be a goat. He thinks he is seeing a ghost and shudders, not realizing La Esmeralda is alive and safe in the tower.
The tragedy of this scene is that Claude Frollo’s apparent misery is generated by his own selfish sense of loss, rather than by grief or shame about not confessing that he has been the one to stab Phoebus. Long before Quasimodo snatched her away from the gallows, Frollo could have confessed and saved La Esmeralda. By remaining silent, he has ironically become more vile and worthless than his brother Jehan, who coincidentally passes him by in the street without a glimpse of recognition.