The synopsis of Judge Claude Frollo from the 1996 Oscar-nominated Disney film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
|“||Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin. And he saw corruption everywhere, except within.||„|
|~ Clopin Trouillefou (the narrator) on Judge Claude Frollo.
Not much is known about his past nor earlier life, though Frollo resides in Paris, France, where he initially serves as a court judge. A deeply religious man, Frollo abuses his position to inflict great suffering upon the Romani population (or gypsies as he addresses them), believing them to "live outside the natural order" and engage in "heathen" behavior, as well as "inflame the people's lowest instincts". For this reason, many Romani citizens (if not all of them) held a great fear of the tyrannical judge who always singled them out whenever crime took place (regardless of whether they're guilty or not).
One winter's night, a group of Romani travelers attempts to enter Paris in secret, only to be stopped by Frollo and his soldiers. When one of the travelers (a woman carrying a bundle) attempts to flee, Frollo, thinking her to be hiding stolen goods, chases her through the streets of Paris. The woman arrives at Notre Dame and tries to gain sanctuary in the church, but Frollo catches up to her. As he wrestles the bundle from her, he kicks her in the abdomen, causing her to fall head-first on the front steps of the church and die instantly.
Frollo eventually finds out the bundle actually carries the woman's hideously deformed baby son, whom he attempts to throw down a well, believing him to be an "unholy demon" due to his deformities and that doing so would "send it back to Hell where it belongs". However, he is stopped by the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, who berates him for murdering an innocent woman on consecrated ground. Though Frollo defends his actions regarding the death of the woman and his attempt to drown the child, the Archdeacon tells him that even though he could hide his crimes from the public and lie to himself about his justifications, he could never hide his crimes from the eyes of the Virgin Mary (Notre Dame being French for "Our Lady.") As the Archdeacon goes to give the dead woman a proper burial, he tells Frollo to adopt the baby and raise him as his own son in order to atone for his actions.
Fearing damnation, Frollo begrudgingly accepts and names the baby Quasimodo ("half-formed"). He keeps him out of the people's attention in the cathedral towers, as he believes that the child may have some future use for him as he intends to make his goals a reality. As Quasimodo grows up, Frollo regularly visited him and put his corrupted beliefs in the latter's mind as well persuading him to never venture outside to avoid the hatred of the world, which he describes as cruel and unforgiving for deformed people. It is also shown that he lied to Quasimodo about the fate of his mother, telling him she never loved him and abandoned him which caused him to take him in. The abuse continued for 20 years with Frollo going out of his way to shame him for being deformed. In spite of this, Quasimodo desires to venture outside the cathedral one day, hoping that people will accept him as one of their own in spite of his deformities.
20 Years Later
|“||Good morning, Quasimodo.||„|
|~ Frollo greeting Quasimodo.|
Twenty years later, Quasimodo has become the bell ringer of the cathedral, and Frollo has risen to become Minister of Justice and has almost complete control over Paris' affairs while King Louis XI is away at war. When doing his usual lesson with Quasimodo, Frollo is infuriated to learn that Quasimodo is interested in attending the annual Festival of Fools. He refuses to let Quasimodo attend, as it goes against his edict that Quasimodo never leaves the bell tower under any circumstances. He also admits that even though he is required to attend the festival due to his status as a public official, he doesn't enjoy it at all and in fact utterly loathes the concept of the Festival of Fools, describing it as "the dregs of humankind all mixed together in a shallow, drunken stupor." He convinces Quasimodo to forsake his desire to attend the festival to avoid the harrowing judgments that the rest of Paris supposedly has for people who are deformed.
At the Palace of Justice, Frollo had his previous Captain of the Guards tortured by Pierrat Torturue, believing him to be a 'disappointment'. He then recruits a renowned soldier and war hero Phoebus to serve as his new captain of the guards and join him in his campaign against the Romani populace. Frollo also stated that the Romani people have a hideout known as the Court of Miracles, which he has been searching for 20 years to no avail. Though Phoebus is skeptical about the Romani as an actual threat and appalled by the way Frollo punishes his men for failure, he agrees to help Frollo.
While attending the festival, Frollo discovers a Romani dancer named Esmeralda, who both attracts and disgusts him with her beauty. Shortly afterward, Quasimodo is revealed to have changed his mind about attending the festival and has secretly joined the festivities, but his cover is ultimately blown when he is nominated to become King of Fools (an award given to the person with the "ugliest face in Paris") and the others figure out that he is the hidden bell-ringer. Frollo is clearly infuriated that Quasimodo has disobeyed him, and is even more so when he is ultimately crowned King of Fools.
In the midst of the cheers for Quasimodo, the Brutish Captain and Oafish Guard throws a tomato at Quasimodo, causing several more soldiers to incite the rest of the crowd to start throwing food at him as well. Several others tie him down, and the crowd continues throwing food at him, cruelly laughing at him and mocking him. Quasimodo begs Frollo for help, but a displeased Frollo allows the torment to continue to punish him for his disobedience, even refusing to allow Phoebus to put a stop to the torment.
Esmeralda then comes to Quasimodo's aid by cutting him loose, despite Frollo forbidding her. She berates the judge for tormenting the innocents he is supposed to protect. Frollo is unable to silence her and vows that she will pay for defying him. Esmeralda defies him once again when she proclaims that Frollo is the real King of Fools and throws Quasimodo's crown at his feet.
Frollo orders Esmeralda to be arrested, but she is able to evade his guards at the Festival with magic tricks, which Frollo describes as "witchcraft". Frollo is left humiliated by his and his guards' inability to capture her. He then glares angrily at Quasimodo, who apologizes for disobeying him and vowing not to do so again, before returning to Notre Dame.
Esmeralda is only able to escape Frollo's wrath by sneaking into Notre Dame, where she is beyond Frollo's reach due to the divine right of sanctuary. However, Phoebus is able to follow her in, but she stands up to him and fights him to a draw, earning his respect. Frollo barges into the cathedral and demands that Phoebus take her into custody, but Phoebus claims sanctuary for Esmeralda on her behalf. Frollo demands that Esmeralda be "dragged outside", but the Archdeacon arrives to defend her and reminds Frollo to respect the sanctity of the church. An angered Frollo then orders his guards to leave, but he himself hides behind a pillar.
|“||You've chosen a magnificent prison, but it is a prison nonetheless. Set one foot outside, and you're mine!||„|
|~ Frollo warning Esmeralda that he will hunt her down and make her his property if she leaves the cathedral.|
While the Archdeacon peacefully escorts Phoebus out of the cathedral, Frollo comes up behind Esmeralda and grabs her, threatening her by saying that 'gypsies' don't do well inside stone walls. He then proceeds to sniff her hair inappropriately and gropes her neck. Esmeralda is utterly disgusted and shoves Frollo away. He then accuses Esmeralda of "clouding [his] mind with unholy thoughts." As he leaves the cathedral, Frollo taunts Esmeralda that he's placing her under house arrest and he would have her arrested the second if she steps outside of the church. He then posts guards at every entrance, effectively trapping Esmeralda inside Notre Dame.
Frollo Continues his Plans
|“||I feel her, I see her, the sun caught in her raven hair, is blazing in me out of all control… like fire! Hellfire! This fire in my skin. This burning desire is turning me to sin!||„|
|~ Frollo confessing his lust for Esmeralda, during Hellfire.|
That night at the Palace of Justice, Frollo is disturbed by his attraction and lust for Esmeralda. Despite this, he is against God, shifting the blame of his crimes on others (including God and the Devil) and coming to the conclusion that Esmeralda must have put a spell on him to damn his soul, and that his desires for her were not his fault at all. He resolves to either have Esmeralda for himself or kill her if she refuses (which he expresses in the song "Hellfire"). Unbeknownst to Frollo, Quasimodo has helped Esmeralda escape the cathedral in gratitude for her rescue of him during the Festival of Fools, as well as feelings of love towards her.
Upon learning that Esmeralda has escaped, Frollo furiously declares that he will hunt her down even if he has to burn down all of Paris. The next day, he leads his men in a ruthless manhunt for Esmeralda, raiding portions of the city and capturing more Romani citizens. Frollo offers bribes of silver to the captured Romani in exchange for the location of Esmeralda, but they refuse out of complete disgust, and Frollo has them imprisoned, much to Phoebus' disgust.
Frollo later arrives at the home of a miller and his family and accuses them of harboring Romani travelers in his home when he discovers a gypsy talisman on the miller's property. The miller protests for his family's innocence in the whole affair and begs mercy from Frollo, who refuses to listen and places the miller and his family under house arrest. He then orders Phoebus to burn down the mill with the family still inside, simply to make examples of the "traitors". Appalled that Frollo wanted to murder an entire family of innocent people, Phoebus furiously defies the order, inciting an annoyed Frollo to set the mill ablaze himself. Horrified, Phoebus goes into the burning building and lets the family escape to safety, only to be knocked out by the Brutish Guard.
Frollo then orders Phoebus to be executed for his insubordination, but before Phoebus can be killed, a disguised Esmeralda (having witnessed the event) throws a rock at Frollo's horse, causing the horse to throw Frollo off. This distracts Frollo's men long enough for Phoebus to steal the horse and ride away, prompting an angry Frollo to order his guards to kill Phoebus. Eventually, one of the guards managed to pierce Phoebus in the back near his heart with an arrow, sending him to fall into a river, much to Esmeralda's shock. Leaving Phoebus for dead, Frollo appoints the Brutish Guard as his new Captain of the Guards and resumes the search for Esmeralda. Unbeknownst to Frollo and his men, Esmeralda was able to rescue Phoebus and secretly bring him back to Notre Dame where she and Quasimodo help nurse him back to health.
As night falls, Frollo's hunt has left Paris burning and in ruins, with Esmeralda still nowhere to be found and the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of people. Frollo is at a loss to explain how Esmeralda could have possibly escaped Notre Dame when he had it completely surrounded. He then deduces to the accurate conclusion that the only way she could have escaped without alerting his guards would be if Quasimodo helped her.
With that in mind, Frollo paid an unannounced visit to Quasimodo, and though at first, Frollo appears to be visiting him as he normally does. However, he furiously reveals that he is aware that Quasimodo helped Esmeralda escape. Though Quasimodo protests that he was only repaying the girl for her genuine kindness to him, Frollo angrily rages at him, claiming that her kindness was "cunning" and that Romani people are not capable of love. However, Frollo calms down and concedes that Quasimodo could never stand a chance against Esmeralda's "heathen treachery" and promised to free him from her "evil spell" by claiming that he had discovered the Court of Miracles, and at dawn, he will attack it with a thousand men.
Using a gypsy necklace that Esmeralda gave to him earlier that details the location of the Court, Quasimodo and a recovered Phoebus tracked down the Court in the old catacombs underneath the city's graveyard, where they warned Esmeralda and the Romani citizens of the judge's impending attack and that they need to leave the city immediately to avoid Frollo's wrath. Unfortunately, Frollo and his soldiers followed them in secret and laid siege to the Court, arresting all the Romani people (including Phoebus and Esmeralda). Frollo then admitted that he deliberately lied to Quasimodo and that the supposed attack was nothing more than a ruse to mislead Quasimodo into leading him to the Court, mocking Quasimodo of "finally being of use" to him. Having succeeded in his goals in capturing Esmeralda and tracking down the Court of Miracles, Frollo declares to the Romani people that he will personally oversee their public execution at the town square; he even plans to do the same to Phoebus in order to "remedy his revival from the dead". As the guards take the Romani people into custody, Quasimodo begs Frollo to spare them, but his pleas fall silent as Frollo has him chained up back in the bell tower to prevent him from leaving again.
|“||The prisoner Esmeralda has been found guilty of the crime of witchcraft. The sentence: death! The time has come, Gypsy. You stand upon the brink of the abyss. Yet, even now, it is not too late. I can save you from the flames of this world and the next. Choose me or the fire.||„|
|~ Frollo attempts to lure Esmeralda to him before she spits on his face.|
Having succeeded in rounding up the entire Romani population, Frollo gets them all (including Phoebus and Esmeralda) locked up in cages as he intends to execute them all (with the help of his executioner Henriet Cousin) in the town square. Both the Archdeacon and the townspeople angrily protested at this and demanded the Romani to be released, but Frollo gets his soldiers to hold them off. As Frollo finishes his preparations in tying up Esmeralda (as his first victim) at the stake, he offers her a final ultimatum: he will pardon her and allow her to walk away alive, but only if she becomes his mistress. Esmeralda angrily refuses by defiantly spitting in the judge's face, and Frollo begins the process of condemning her and setting the stake on fire, much to the citizens' horror and outrage. Though it would've seemed that Frollo is about to get away with his actions as he smiles wickedly while watching the flames surround Esmeralda, an outraged Quasimodo frees himself from his chains and swings into the courtyard to rescue Esmeralda from the burning stake. Quasimodo then swings back to the cathedral, loudly declaring sanctuary for Esmeralda before hiding her in a chamber for safety, much to the delight of the Romani people and the citizens (including Phoebus and the Archdeacon).
Enraged that Quasimodo has interfered yet again, Frollo finally loses what remains of his sanity and orders his men to attack the cathedral by force, telling them to grab a wooden beam (which Quasimodo previously threw to crush Frollo's carriage) and use it to break down the door. In the chaos, Phoebus is able to free himself and rallies the citizens of Paris to free the Romani people and fight back against Frollo and his soldiers. As such, Phoebus, the Romani people, and the citizens engage in a fully-fledged battle against Frollo's soldiers while Quasimodo and his gargoyle friends take charge of the defense of Notre Dame itself and are able to prevent quite a few soldiers from entering the church. Eventually, Quasimodo and the gargoyles resort to pouring hot vats of molten copper down into the courtyard to stop the soldiers' advance. The molten copper completely surrounds Notre Dame and is successful in warding off Frollo's soldiers, but Frollo is able to cut a small entrance into the door with his sword, large enough for him to get in.
As Frollo heads towards the staircase to the bell tower, the arriving Archdeacon (being aware of what happened) confronts him for going insane with power and attacking the church. Declaring this to be the last straw, the Archdeacon furiously states that he won't tolerate Frollo's actions anymore, implying that he will report Frollo to King Louis XI and have him arrested and/or executed for his crimes. However, Frollo furiously shoves the Archdeacon out of the way and locks him out of the tower, telling that he himself and Quasimodo both have "unfinished business to attend to", and that the Archdeacon will not interfere this time.
Though Quasimodo is initially celebrating the victory against Frollo and his soldiers, Esmeralda has fallen unconscious because of smoke inhalation, and Quasimodo's attempts to revive her are not successful. Frollo finds Quasimodo sobbing over Esmeralda, believing her to be dead. Frollo appears to assert his guilt, vindicating his actions by stating he was simply doing his duty and says that it's time to end Quasimodo's suffering forever. However, Quasimodo notices Frollo's shadow raising a dagger, clearly intending to kill him. With that in mind, Quasimodo overpowers Frollo by pushing him to the floor and throwing the dagger away, filled with rage against Frollo for what he has done.
A shocked Frollo begs Quasimodo to listen to him, but Quasimodo has been finally fed up with Frollo's lies, going on an emotional tirade about how all his life Frollo had told him that the world was a dark, cruel place and that he now sees that the only reason why the world is like that is because of intolerant and wicked people who are just like Frollo. Following Quasimodo's tirade, Esmeralda finally recuperates, much to Quasimodo's complete relief. Enraged that Esmeralda was still alive, Frollo draws his sword, but Quasimodo picks Esmeralda up and quickly darts onto the church's balcony and out of sight.
|“||Leaving so soon?||„|
|~ Frollo taunting Quasimodo and Esmeralda as they are hanging on for dear life before trying to kill them both on the balcony of the cathedral.|
Frollo searches for both Quasimodo and Esmeralda, and he finally finds them trying to climb down the wall. He tries to cut off the gargoyle structure that Quasimodo was hanging on, but Quasimodo leaps to another one out of Frollo's reach. Quasimodo keeps evading Frollo and manages to get Esmeralda to climb back onto the balcony.
Blinded by rage, Frollo finally confesses that he murdered Quasimodo's mother when she tried to protect him as a baby, which left Quasimodo and Esmeralda shocked. As such, Frollo proclaims his intention to kill Quasimodo like he should have done 20 years ago. He blinds Quasimodo with his cloak and attempts to throw him into the molten copper below, but Quasimodo manages to hold on to the balcony, accidentally pulling Frollo along with him.
Instead of letting his foster father fall, Quasimodo holds him and the cape tightly while Frollo maintains his hold on the cape, with his own grip on the balcony weakening. As Esmeralda attempts to pull Quasimodo to safety, Frollo is able to climb onto part of the wall onto another gargoyle structure. With his eyes and mouth glowing in a more menacing tone, Frollo steadies himself and cackles evilly at their situation. With an evil grin, the demented judge raises his sword to kill them both, proclaiming that God shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit of Hell.
Ironically, at that very moment, the gargoyle starts to crack, causing Frollo to lose his balance and hang on to the gargoyle for dear life. Much to Frollo's fearful horror, the gargoyle comes to life and furiously roars thunderously at him, serving as divination of God that finally declares Frollo as the true wicked for his heinous crimes against the population of Paris and as well finally had enough of Frollo. As such, the angry gargoyle willfully breaks away from the cathedral completely, sending itself and a screaming Frollo plunging into the molten copper a long way below, where Frollo gets incinerated to his death and receives his eternal comeuppance. Esmeralda loses her grip on Quasimodo, but Phoebus (who found a way to enter Notre Dame) saves him by catching him from another floor below, much to Esmeralda's relief.
With Frollo finally dead, Quasimodo reunites with Esmeralda and Phoebus before giving his blessing to their relationship. Quasimodo then ventures outside Notre Dame, where everyone (including the Romani citizens) happily praised him as a hero for putting an end to Frollo's tyranny, fulfilling his lifelong dream of being accepted into society in spite of his deformities. Although no information is given on Frollo's soul in Hell, he is probably screaming for mercy to God while demanding why he is being punished. God most likely refuses to listen to him and gives him a harsh punishment in the Lake of Fire for his crimes against Paris.