Let’s concluded with series of posts with titular character herself, Notre Dame.
Notre Dame, Paris, France – Matted Photo
Notre Dame means in French Our Lady. Notre Dame de Paris mean Our lady of Paris. All churches that have Notre Dame in them refer to the Virgin Mary.
The original title novel, Notre Dame de Paris, has double meaning, it refers to the Cathedral and Esmeralda. Esmeralda has a lot of association to the Virgin Mary in the book, but that is a post series for another time.
Illustration Sister Gudule and Esmeralda by Luc Oliver Merson
Sister Gudule has an impressive array of names and nicknames.
Let’s start with Sister Gudule. The Sister indicates she is a nun. Gudule is an ceratin type of nun called anchoress. Very simply, an Anchoress is one who retires from the world and prays. These nuns are also called Sachette. I think the name comes from the rags they wear. The name Gudule is French name that seems to be derived from the name Gudula which is derived from Gothic for either guths meaning God or from gôds meaning good. This reflects Gudule’s devotion to praying to god to answer she only prayer which is to have her daughter returned to her
Her name however is Paquette Guybertaut. It’s a little unclear what Paquette means as a first name, one source said Ruddy-cheeked and another indicated it’s pet-form of Pacquet which is “a bundle of kindling” Given her character in her youth and her father was a minstrel, Ruddy-cheeked makes more sense. Her true last name is Guybertaut. Guybertaut on its own does not to seem to be a real surname. Guybertaut can be broken down to Guy and Bertaut. Guy as a last name indicates coming from district of Guise in France. Bertaut is a real surname but I can’t find any hint as its meaning. It doesn’t really matter as Gudule does not remember this name, she only remembers the nickname she was given when she was eighteen.
She was more commonly referred to as Paquette la Chantefleurie. Chantefleurie means “The Flower Song”. It symbolizes her winsome youthful nature which is a kin to Esmeralda’s personality.
Her names reflect her capricious youth and her harsh adulthood as a recluse yearning for lost child.
Illustration of Jehan Frollo
Jehan is an old French from of Iohannes or John. Iohannes is Latin form of the Greek name Ioannes. Ioannese is derived from the Hebrew name Yochanan which means Yahweh is gracious.
John and the Jehan form are commons names but it seems that Jehan’s name is meant with irony. This is because he is a good-for-nothing mooch. However he does have Frollo’s favor at the beginning of the novel but he loses it when Frollo loses patience for his life style.
For the meaning of Frollo, please see my post on Claude Frollo’s name meaning
Considering the two Frollos are both killed by Quasimodo, does that make Quasimodo an allegorical King Arthur?
There another compontent of his name, Jehan Frollo du Moulin, which means “of the Windmill.” Jehan was raised at a windmill
Disney Djali from Hunchback of Notre Dame
Djali means a wandering performer/musician/dancer. In some places in the world it has a negative connotation.
Djali is a performer as she does harmless tricks and mimic people.
Clopin with Puppet Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
Clopin Trouillfou is the king of beggars and in many versions he is the king of the entire Paris underworld.
Clopin is his given name. It comes from an expression that means to “to hobble along” or Marcher clopin-clopant. Clopin itself comes from the word clopiner meaning to limp. Unlike Frollo, whose given name also mean limp, here it reference the fact that Clopin is king of people who fake ailments for money as well as he himself who pretends not to have a leg.
Trouillfou is a compound of Trouille which means fear with a strong connotation, as in “scared to death,” and fou which means fool. Basically it mean scared crazy. This name suggests that he either is crazy or his presence makes people crazy, like Gringoire or his legion of beggars.
Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire in Notre Dame de Paris
Pierre Gringoire was based on a real person. The Real-life Gringoire was born in 1475 and died 1538 and was an accomplished playwright and writer.
Pierre is French for stone. It is derived from the Greek word Petros meaning stone or rock. It is a form of Peter. Pierre is a very very common French name. It’s interesting to note that towards the end of the novel Gringoire becomes interested in Architecture and stone.
Then we have Gringoire. As we know Gringoire was based on a real person, we also know that it is a real surname. The meaning is a little hard to pin down. It would seem that the name Gringoire comes out of the ancient greek name Gregorein, which means watchful or awake. The spelling variations are Gregoir, Gregoire, Greguer, Gregure, De Gregoire, Degregoire, De Gregoir, Degreoire and more. The name was first found in Guyenne. Their family seat is held in the village and estate of Gregoire in the department of Lot-et-Garonne in tarn in the South of France.
I think in giving Gringoire a normal name it significance him as the normal guy.
Lemud Illustration of Frollo
Claude Frollo seems to have a very tricky name to break down. Let’s start with the easy part, Claude.
Claude is a Latin name that means Lame, as in limp. This name could relate to Frollo’s crippled soul. In Book 4 Chapter 6, the local boys also said to Frollo and Quasimodo when they would pass by “Claudius cum claudo” meaning in Latin “Claude with the crippled.”
Then there is Frollo. Frollo is a mysterious surname. It doesn’t sound very French at all does it? Well, it’s not, in fact it’s not really a surname. Frollo has Roman roots but isn’t really Roman. The only evidence of Frollo aside from Hugo’s Frollo and Leone Frollo (an Italian Comic Stripe Creator) is in the Arthurian Legends.
According to the Legend, Arthur conquered Norway for with Brother-in-law, King Lot. On his was back he went through Denmark and to Gaul. Gaul was ruled by the Roman Emperor Leo and it was governed by Frollo. Arthur defeated the army and Frollo fled to Paris. Arthur besieged the city. Frollo knew the city couldn’t hold out a long siege, so he challenged Arthur to one-on-one combat for Gaul. Frollo managed to wound Arthur but was killed. The Legends claim that Frollo means in Old English “Killed by Arthur.” Which would mean he got the name after the fact and it would make it an Old English name.
But wait there’s more, according to the Vulgate Lancelot, a major source for the Arthurian Legend written in French, Frollo was an ally of King Claudas. Yet another connection to the name Claude.
19th century Illustration of Esmeralda
La Esmeralda’s name rather simply means Emerald in Spanish. Emerald in it of itself originated from the Greek smaragdos meaning “green gem.” In the book, Esmeralda’s name is an alias, she knows it’s not her real name but she thinks it’s pretty because of it’s uniqueness. The reason she is known as La Esmeralda in the book is because of a green silk bag she wears around her neck that has a green glass gem on it that looks like an emerald. This bag is were she keeps her protective talisman, her baby shoe. Esmeralda could also have a connection to The Emerald Tablet, which is a hermetic Alchemist text. Frollo practiced hermetic.
Esmeralda’s true given name is Agnès. Agnès means pure. Purity is an important facet of Esmeralda’s character as Phoebus is attracted to her innocence and Frollo is comforted by her purity. Agnès also is associated with lambs. This because it was the emblem of Saint Agnes, who was young Roman virgin martyr. Lambs also the connotation for being sacrificial as well as being a tile for Jesus that appears in the Gospel of John.
It is interesting to point out, that her green silk pouch, which her name Esmeralda comes from, protects her purity or her true name. The pouch also safeguards her only link to her true name, her baby shoe.
Every monday for a while, I will go behind the Hunchback character’s name to see hidden facets to their characters as indicated by their names or in some cases very apparent facets. Anyway, let’s start with Mr. Quasimodo.
Illustration of Quasimodo
Quasimodo’s name is a sad pun within the book. Frollo found Quasimodo abandoned at Notre Dame on Low Sunday, the Sunday after Easter, also called Quasimodo Sunday. The name Quasimodo for this Sunday comes from the Latin text of the traditional Intriot from this day. An Introit is part of the opening of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist. The Intriot for Low Sunday begins with “Quasi modo geniti infantes…” from 1 Peter 2:2. It roughly translates to “As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile…” The “Quasi modo” part means “As if” in this instance.
Quasimodo in isolation roughly means “Almost merely” or “Merely Almost.” The name indicates Quasimodo’s deformity and that he almost looks like a human or is an approximation of human. The meaning “half-formed” isn’t correct but it’s the right idea.
In the Disney version, in an effort to villainize Frollo, which considering he just kill a mother and almost committed infanticide wasn’t necessary, they claimed the name was cruel. It’s not a name that one should give to a child as the meaning isn’t all that nice but it’s not cruelly given. Naming children for days was a common practice. Frollo didn’t mean it cruelly, it was the day and apt description of the child. It is a very brilliant pun.
Side Note – Low Sunday was also known as St Thomas Sunday, so I guess Quasimodo COULD have been called Thomas but that doesn’t have the pathos as Quasimodo.