Question; Why did Esmeralda choose Phoebus?
This question get asked a lot and it’s directed to the Disney movie. A lot people resent Esmeralda for picking Phoebus after all Quasimodo did for her. They resent her despite the fact that movie tries very, very hard to convince the audience that Esmeralda and Phoebus are the perfect couple.
When a film tries to present a future couple to the audience it is always done at the start of the film by showing the couple interacting in someway. This is almost always the case unless it is important to the development of the character to break it off with the person the are supposed to be with. Titanic is a good example of this. In Disney’s Hunchback the only scene that does not have either Frollo or Quasimodo is when Esmeralda and Phoebus meet. Now this may seem trivial but remember that the movie’s theme is “what makes a monster and what makes man” and every scene but this one and most of their time in the church reinforces that theme.
Next, Esmeralda and Phoebus have almost identical personalities. They’re both witty, friendly, selfless and very self righteous. Frollo is very self righteous and somewhat witty and Quasimodo is friendly and somewhat selfless, he kind of has to overcome some self pity first.
Another tactic the movie uses to try to get the audience of the couple’s side is the contrast of how Quasimodo, Frollo and Phoebus view Esmeralda. Frollo views Esmeralda as demon-witch sent from hell to ensnare him in hellish fire whereas Quasimodo views her a s heavenly-angel sent from high above to love him. These point of views are made crystal clear by their songs “Heaven’s Light” and “Hellfire.” Now Phoebus on the other hand doesn’t view her as an angel or demon, he views as a human and treats her as such.
However the most conniving thing the movie does to try to showcase that Esmeralda belongs with Phoebus and not Quasimodo is how she interacts with them. With Quasimodo, she treats with a lot of kindness and compassion. Not to mention she treats him like a child. Esmeralda never expressed any romantic interest in him. The peck on the cheek was to convince him let her stay in his life because she was on the side of the outcasts. She liked him as a friend nothing more. With Phoebus, she was coquettish, witty, snarky, and romantic. All most all Disney couples start off snarky without each other, it’s a troupe.
The inability to accept Esmeralda and Phoebus as a couple isn’t really do with how much Quasimodo helped Esmeralda because she helped him too it is more to do with acceptations and hopefully optimism. First, it is very rare that a protagonist doesn’t end up with the leading lady. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one the few Disney movies where this happens. And there is the fact that Quasimodo is an underdog and the audience wants him to succeed and get the girl but it was disheartening when he doesn’t even though Quasimodo accepted the relationship and was happy for them.
And if the protagonist is cool with this than the audience should acceptance it as well.