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In the beginning of the novel, Claude Frollo is portrayed in a favorable way. Serving as one of the priests of Notre-Dame, he is a man of intellect and knowledge who has the capacity to influence others and to become a great figure in the community. He proves that he has a kind heart when he adopts and raises Quasimodo, the deformed and orphaned infant that nobody else wants.
When Claude Frollo was a youth, his own parents died. He took it upon himself to raise his younger brother, Jehan. He poured all of his efforts and energy into caring for him and trying to make a man out of Jehan. Unfortunately, Jehan became a worthless and shiftless loser who constantly badgers his older brother for money. Frollo abandons him entirely.
Even though he is a religious leader, Frollo becomes obsessed with La Esmeralda, the beautiful gypsy street entertainer. He is determined to have her for his own. He tries to kidnap her by forcing Quasimodo to help in the attack. When Gringoire and others see what is happening, Frollo runs away, leaving Quasimodo to be arrested for the attempted kidnapping. Then when the hunchback is on the pillory to be flogged for the crime, Frollo pretends not to know him and refuses to come to his aid.
When Frollo learns that La Esmeralda is in love with Phoebus, he goes to the Court of Miracles in disguise and stabs the Captain. La Esmeralda is arrested for the crime and sentenced to die by hanging. Frollo refuses to come to her aid and tell the authorities the truth. As she mounts the pillory to be executed, Quasimodo rescues La Esmeralda and carries her into Notre- Dame for sanctuary. When Frollo learns that she is being cloistered in the tower of his cathedral, he tries to force himself on her. Quasimodo must fight the priest to save La Esmeralda.
Frollo is definitely the darkest character of the novel, belonging to the demonic tradition of the Gothic novel. No where in the book does he show any guilt for his actions or attempt to redeem his villainous ways. As a priest, he should be the epitome of virtue and kindness; instead, he acts like the devil himself, as he abandons his brother, betrays Quasimodo, stabs Phoebus out of jealousy, manipulates Gringoire, attacks La Esmeralda, and becomes the instrument of her death.