In all seriousness Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame really only has the basic premise of the original novel. All the characters differ in attitudes and backstorys. The way the story unfolds and comes to its conclusion is different because of the characters.

The biggest difference is the Characters;

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney picture image

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney


In making Frollo a judge and not a priest we loss his turmoil which makes Frollo an interesting and complex character. I really don’t care as much about his lust and obsession for Esmeralda just because he hate Gypsies. Also in the book, his obsession occurs slowly. He sees her and is instantly taken by her youthful beauty. After that he begins stalking her and by kidnapping her he forces the the plot to take action. In the Disney movie, Quasimodo doesn’t have the some loyalty and Frollo abuses him by telling him he’s a monster and keeps him locked in the tower. In the book Frollo did no such thing and Quasimodo could leave  Notre Dame if he wished.



Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Quasimodo in the Disney movie is very much like Ariel. He wants to live with the normal people. He is very naive, kind and gentle. In the book, Quasimodo is kind and loyal  to those who have been kind to him  i.e Frollo and Esmeralda. However, Quasimodo is also angry and doesn’t really like people. He would never want to leave Notre Dame as Notre Dame is his universe. He loves Notre Dame so much that he is very much  a part of it and his lovers are bells. The relationship between Quasimodo and Notre Dame is destroyed in the Disney version as Notre Dame is not so much a sanctuary but a prison. Also in the movie Disney he briefly mentions the bell but you don’t get the sense that he loves the bells. I also don’t see this Quasimodo killing Frollo in fit of rage or lying down next to Esmeralda to die.



Disney Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame Dance picture image

Esmeralda’s Dance Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame


Esmeralda is the polar opposition between Disney movie and the book. In the book she is at least part French and is young, beautiful, naive, shallow, childish and kind of dumb. In the Disney movie, while she is beautiful, she has none of the other traits, though the youth is debatable.  She is confident and is in control of her sexual appeal. In the Disney version she is a full Gypsy and we are never given any sense of her backstory. In the book she was unaware of her beauty and she lacks any worldliness. This naivety is what gets her into trouble in the book and ultimately is what kills her and not a passion for social justice.




Phoebus Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Phoebus in the book is a jerk who is kind of dumb and just wants to sleep with pretty girls. Also he is two-timing cheat, who despite being engaged he tries sleeps with every good-looking girl he can.  In the Disney version is he is noble, moral and likes to crack bad jokes.  Not like book Phoebus at all.



Clopin Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Clopin Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Clopin in the book in the leader of the Court of Miracles, not the Gypsies. The Leader of the Gypsy in the book was the Duke of Egypt. Typically, the leader of the Court of Miracles and the Leader of the Gypsy get fused into one which is  Clopin. That’s a minor issue. Compared to Frollo, Quasimodo, Esmeralda and Phoebus; Disney Clopin’s differences are not so bad. He tells stories like Gringoiore (a character in book) and is the leader of the Court of Miracles; he’s two characters in one, or three.



Djali Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Djali Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Djali in the Disney movie is a pretty minor character who doesn’t do anything other than add some charm and humor. In the book however Djali is pretty essential to the plot. Djali is the prime evidence for why Esmeralda is convicted of being a witch. Goats were considered to be representational of the devil and the tricks innocence tricks Djali performed like spelling and telling the time were thought to be the work of witchcraft by the judges in the book. Of course, since the plot veers so far the book it doesn’t really matter. Djali’s main function in the movie is a cute sidekick who sells toys to children.


The Gargoyles do not count, they’re not in the book.


Xed Gargoyles Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame image picture

 Gargoyles Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame


It really does seems like someone early in production took the cliff notes of Hugo’s book, throw them into a blender, strained, added water and poured out the Disney Plot. Then that  got re-written by those people who didn’t read. And the differences in the characters in proof that.


Next time – Minor Differences,

Next up the Villain: Frollo

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Judge Claude Frollo

Frollo is Quasimodo’s counterpoint and the Villain of the movie. Frollo is a bit different from other Disney villains. Many of the villains are trying to get more power (Ursula, Jafar, Scar etc), Frollo already has Power, he is the High Justice of Paris. His motivation keeping control and he is fueled by hate. He thinks he’s better than everyone else from a moral stand point and if he judges it as amoral than he thinks he is in the right, from killing an innocent women, to trying to kill a baby, burning Paris or attempted genocide.


Disney Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Judge Claude Frollo

Disney villains generally have two looks to them, elegant and slim or fat yet still elegant. Frollo is of the elegant, slim and tall variety. Looking at the concept art you can see parallels between Disney’s Frollo and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. He dresses like noble but

Concept Art for Frollo disney Hunchabck of notre dame picture image

Concept Art for Frollo

we’re given no back story other than his relationship with Quasimodo so we have no where he comes from. In the musical Der Glökner von Notre Dame ( German musical by Alan Menkan based on the Disney movie) Frollo was a priest prior to becoming the high Justice, which makes  his pious-bent makes a little more sense, but you don’t go from a priest to High Justice. At least in 1939 version his piousness was the result of having a Brother who was the Archdeacon. With Disney Frollo there is no hint or reason given for a morally-corrupt pious Judge. You can make guesses as to  what the reason is for Frollo’s behavior but Disney films have never been a venue for giving out much character development of their villains. Character Development might prompt sympathy. My Guess would be being pious and acting moral helps Frollo maintain his hold over the Parisians.


Frollo and Quasimodo Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo and Qausimodo

Frollo is very conniving and manipulative. He raises Quasimodo out of guilt for killing Quasimodo’s mother in front of Notre Dame  but he keeps him locked away in Notre Dame. I can’t quite figure out his logic for keeping Quasimodo in Notre Dame (other than the almighty plot and source material told him to), I mean Frollo lives in a jail. Anyway Frollo also raises Quasimodo with the hope that Quasimodo will be useful to him in some capacity. It’s hard to know if Frollo actually likes Quasimodo or he simply likes the dynamics of their Master/slave:Father/son relationship. My guess is Frollo all about Power and keeping power and Quasimodo serves as a consistent reminder of his hold over Paris and when Quasimodo proved too willful for him he tried to kill him.

Frollo and Quasimodo Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo trying to control Quasimodo

Frollo and Quasimodo Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo trying to kill Quasimodo







Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame Esmeralda Disney red dress costume picture image

Esmeralda giving Frollo a Kiss

In direct opposition to Frollo’s control is Esmeralda. Esmeralda is everything that Frollo hates, she’s a free-spirited Gypsy who dances and lives outside the social order that he controls.  Frollo first notices her when she danced a very sensual dance and kissed him on the nose. The dance, while getting his attention wasn’t the factor to make him obsessives towards her, it was her defying him in support of Quasimodo who was being tortured by the crowd. Esmeralda uses some parlor tricks that Frollo misconstrues as witchcraft (another of Frollo’s turn off) and after a merry chase she gives him the slip

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame groping Esmeralda picture image

Frollo groping Esmeralda

and  goes into Notre Dame. Frollo’s obsession for her intensify to the point where he has to over come her, at this point by arresting her. Frollo tries to arrest her in Notre Dame but due sanctuary, she is protected. It’s at this point Frollo loses control and gropes her, and sniffs her hair, and thus the lust begins.  As he can’t arrest her, he blocks her in Notre Dame stationing guards at every door of the cathedral. Frollo then sings about how his losing control is the fault  of Esmeralda and not his (Hellfire). At this point arresting Esmeralda is not enough, he needs to be in possession of her or she mustn’t exists.  It’s

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame Hellfire picture image

Frollo and an illusion of Esmeralda during Hellfire

during this song where he  learns that once again that Esmeralda has given him the slip.  Frollo then goes on a spree of burning Paris, trying to bribe other Gypsies for Esmeralda’s whereabouts and then arresting them for not being helpful.  Frollo  manipulates Quasimodo to learn the

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame with Esmeralda picture image

Frollo’s ultimatum to Esmeralda

location of the Court of Miracles. This is where Esmeralda is when Frollo attacks and arrests everyone there. As Esmeralda is tied to the stake and about to be burn, Frollo gives Esmeralda his final ultimatum, (him or Flame). Ultimately, like all Disney  movies there is a climax that ends with the villain’s death, like many Disney movies, Frollo is not killed or subdue by the hero, he’s actually about to kill Esmeralda and Quasimodo but the gargoyle he is standing on breaks and Frollo falls to his death. So the real hero of the story is Notre Dame.

Frollo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame death picture  image

Frollo’s Death

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame Hellfire picture image

Frollo singing Hellfire

So in the history Disney of Villains, Frollo is one of the favorite. Nostalgia Critic and Nostalgia Chick from the immensely popular website, ranked Frollo as one of the best villains after The Chernabog from Fanastia and Mola Ram from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, respectively. As far as Disney Villains go, he’s guilty of some of the most heinous acts. Within the first two minutes of his introduction, he kills

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame Kicking Quasimodo's mother Disney picture image

Frollo killing Quasimodo’s Mother

a women and tries to kill a baby, he shows no remorse for

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame Well Disney picture image

Frollo attempting to drown baby Quasimodo

these acts, in fact he justifies them; the women ran, he just followed (he must have thought the kick was an act of God) and he justifies almost killing a baby because it’s ugly (ok he thinks it’s a monster, hey Frollo you’re no great beauty either).  What makes Frollo more compelling as a Villain is his control and power and the fact that he thinks he both righteous and pure.

Next Time – Esmeralda
Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame red dress costume picture image