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- NOTE: This about Judge Claude Frollo in the 1996 Disney animated film. For the original literary version, see Claude Frollo.
|“||Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin. And he saw corruption everywhere, except within.||„|
| ~ Clopin Trouillefou on Judge Claude Frollo.|
|“||And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!||„|
| ~ Judge Claude Frollo's most famous quote as well as his final words and blasphemy before his very ironic demise.|
Judge Claude Frollo (also simply known as Frollo) is the main antagonist of Disney's 34th full-length animated feature film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which is based on the 1831 French novel of the same name by the late Victor Hugo. He is a religious fanatic who uses his position as the Minister of Justice in the city of Paris to enrich himself and persecute those he considers inferior, especially the city's Gypsies. He is the ex-foster father of Quasimodo as well as his arch-nemesis and the murderer of his mother. This version of Frollo is noticeably more evil than his literary version.
He was voiced by the late Tony Jay, who also played Shere Khan in Disney's The Jungle Book 2 and TaleSpin, Monsieur D'Arque in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Megabyte in ReBoot, Mr. Toplofty in An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island, Galactus in the 1994 Fantastic Four TV series and Lickboot in Tom and Jerry: The Movie. In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, he was voiced by Shouzou Sasaki in the Japanese version and, by Corey Burton in the English dubbed version. In the musical, he was portrayed by Norbert Lamla.
|“||You can lie to yourself and your minions. You can claim that you haven't a qualm. But you never can run from nor hide what you've done from the eyes… The very eyes of Notre Dame.||„|
| ~ The Archdeacon highlighting the fallacies of Frollo's self-righteousness.|
Frollo is a character of pure malevolence, completely devoid of the funny quirks that made other Disney villains somehow endearing in spite of their crimes. This is made all the gloomier in that he is a normal human the like of which can be encountered anywhere, instead of a stereotypical villain. He is the "monster" from the introduction song "The Bells of Notre Dame" (normal-looking and respected yet repulsive); in stark contrast with the "man" represented by Quasimodo (ugly and shunned yet selfless).
He is cold, spiteful, bitter, misanthropic, cruel, ruthless, relentless, hateful, vicious, sadistic, and uncaring. He destroys countless lives for minimal plight without batting an eyelid, and only shows contrived politeness.
At the beginning of the film, Frollo has two central constructs in his mind: his ruthless and brutal pursuit of enforcing the laws of Paris and his apparent devotion to Catholicism. Because of these things and having lived a life of "power and control", Frollo expresses sort of pride that comes from a feeling of moral superiority - as he is the enforcer of justice. In the "Bells of Notre Dame", the film mentions that the only time the minister felt any sort of guilt or contrition is when the Archdeacon addresses Frollo's manslaughter of Quasimodo's mother and his attempted infanticide of Quasimodo. This moment reveals Frollo's deepest flaw: his lack of a self-critical conscience. Above all, Frollo believes what he is doing is right to the point where he twists the intentions of others to seem to him as evil or delusional.
Due to his Catholic faith, Frollo rejects the spiritualist customs of the gypsies and believes they are scandalizing the people of Paris - thus interfering with his goal of a more morally pure Paris. He focuses much of his efforts on locating and punishing the gypsies.
In interacting with others, Frollo is typically solemn, critical, patronizing, superficially kind and generally negative. He is skilled at reading the motives of others, assisting in his lies and manipulations to the protagonists throughout the film. He has a little sense of humor, aside from a few morbid jokes and sarcasm. As opposed to the Archdeacon, Frollo prefers the more negative aspects of his religion such as sin and eternal damnation rather than virtues of forgiveness and mercy. Due to his defective conscience, Frollo persistently believes he is a morally better person than most everyone else. Frollo is his own patron saint.
Towards the middle of the film, Frollo develops a lust for Esmeralda which contributes to a failing image of his own moral perfection. Unwilling to accept or mend this, he blames Esmeralda, Satan, and even God for this dilemma. Frollo then begins to enter a much more aggressive and persecutory state in his search for this woman. He later tries to make the gypsy his mistress under the guise of converting her to his religion when she is finally caught. Towards the very end of the film, when Esmeralda rejects Frollo's advances for the last time, he no longer feels the need to make penance with Quasimodo and impudently rejects his feelings of guilt for having killed his mother. His final words emphasize his delusion of moral perfection as he attempts to kill Quasimodo and Esmeralda: "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!".
Frollo is an aging man defined by his wrinkled and careworn face. He has pale skin, gray eyes, and thinning white hair. As the Minister of Justice and a high-ranking public official, Frollo is most frequently dressed in a black robe, a purple and black striped hat with a red ribbon attached to the bottom, and shoulder pads with red and black stripes. He also wears rings on his fingers, two on the right and one on the left, with the jewels colored red, green and blue.
Frollo has left a lasting impact on audiences, being remembered as one of the darkest Disney villains (if not the darkest), as his crimes include attempted infanticide on Quasimodo when he was a baby simply for being ugly, expressing clear genocidal intentions in regards to gypsy population in Paris, and trying to burn an innocent family alive just to set an example. Also, the sexual element of his character is otherwise almost unheard of for an animated Disney character. It is also heavily implied that he is responsible for the deaths of countless numbers of gypsies and other innocent citizens.
At the same time, however, Frollo is arguably the most complex and human Disney villain as he does have an internal conflict, as well as a distinct fear for his soul, which he fails to listen to due to his delusional denial of his own sins. Some even find him sympathetic and wish he had redeemed himself or even ended up with Esmeralda. This may have something to do with the book, where he is significantly less malevolent and legitimately is sympathetic.
In addition, Frollo's conflict with the Archdeacon of Notre Dame (who is meant to embody the good aspects of Frollo's character in the novel) has been regarded as mirroring the conflict between pure religion (loving, welcoming and generous) and fanaticism (hateful, oppressive and violent).
An official poll of the Top 30 Disney Villains placed him on the #10 spot, and the Nostalgia Critic gave him the #4 spot on his personal Top 11 list. Also, his villain song, "Hellfire" is widely praised as one of the very best, greatly contributing to his popularity. Oddly enough, some people even overlook his villainy due to having enjoyed the song so much.
Despite (and, given the absurd nature of the phenomenon, likely because of) being such a dark character, Frollo is the second most popular Disney character in the Youtube Poop community, next to Gaston. The "Hellfire" scene, in particular, is a very popular source, again despite and perhaps because of being so dark. The most notable YTP work starring Frollo is "The Frollo Show" by YouTuber Chincherrinas where he is portrayed as the main protagonist and is best friends with Gaston.
- He has the most screentime of any major Disney villain; Frollo is shown for roughly a third of the movie's total runtime.
- In the original book by Victor Hugo, Claude Frollo is the Archdeacon of Notre Dame (who is a separate character in the film). He is actually caring towards Quasimodo, whom he adopted out of genuine mercy, and his good-for-nothing brother Jehan. But when Esmeralda comes along, Frollo's lust for her results in a slow descent into villainy.
- Frollo's genocidal agenda against Gypsies mirrors the Nazi's own genocide against Gypsies (which occurred concurrently to the genocide against European Jews). Like Hitler, Frollo is also an oppressive dictator who rules through fear and intimidation and has a complete willingness to kill anyone who gets in his way.
- Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Alan Rickman were all considered for the role of Frollo.
- Ironically, despite being a flat-out delusional villain who believes himself to be the most righteous person, he has the seven deadly sins. First, his arrogant and condescending attitude towards anybody, believing he is among the common crowd (Pride), his intense sexual desire towards Esmeralda (Lust), he resents Quasimodo who gains the affection of her (Envy), he sees Esmeralda as nothing more than an object to possess even if he doesn't need her in his life (Greed), he gets really angry when Quasimodo helps Esmeralda to escape (Wrath), he doesn't make the slightest effort to repent for his sins (Sloth) and he burns all of Paris, endangering many innocents people only to get Esmeralda for himself (Gluttony, as sometimes it's interpreted as Selfishness).