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|The Hunchback of Notre-Dame character|
Phoebus with Esmeralda in an 1837 illustration
|Created by||Victor Hugo|
Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers is a fictional character and one of the main antagonists in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. He is the Captain of the King's Archers. His name comes from Phoebus, the Greek god of the sun (also called Apollo).
In the novel
In the original novel, Phoebus is an antagonist. Despite being of noble birth and very handsome, he is also vain, untrustworthy, and a womanizer. He saves Esmeralda from Quasimodo and she falls in love with him. Phoebus makes a convincing show of returning her affections, but merely wants a night of passion. Esmeralda arranges to meet Phoebus and tells him of her love for him, and he convinces her that he feels the same way about her. He is in fact engaged to another woman, the spiteful socialite Fleur-De-Lys. Not only that, he has agreed to let Claude Frollo spy on his meeting with Esmeralda. This decision proves his undoing, since as the couple prepare to have sex, the jealous Claude Frollo attacks Phoebus by stabbing him in the back. Frollo makes a quick get-away and Phoebus is presumed dead by homicide. Esmeralda, being the only one present, is presumed to be the killer. Phoebus, however, is not dead and soon recovers from his injury. But this does not stop Esmeralda from being tried and sentenced to death for his murder. Phoebus could have proved her innocence, but he remained silent. In the end of the novel, he marries Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier, and watches Esmeralda's execution with apparently little or no remorse. Whilst being one of the few characters to survive the novel, Hugo hints that Phoebus' marriage will not be happy.
In the Disney film
In the 1996 Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Phoebus' character is considerably different. One of the most notable changes is that he is now a supporting protagonist. Also, his character was merged with the character of Pierre Gringoire. He is voiced by Kevin Kline in both the film and its sequel.
In the movie, Phoebus is a soldier who returns to Paris to be Captain of the Guard under Judge Claude Frollo because his predecessor was a "bit of a disappointment" to Frollo. His feelings for Esmeralda are genuine. He first meets Esmeralda when he sees her dancing in the streets for money. He also watches her dance at the Festival of Fools. Both times, he shows a marked interest in her with an approving grin. But both events entail for Phoebus a greater vested interest in Esmeralda's well-being, and not only in her dancing and her beauty, in that he assists her escape from city authorities both times, unbidden by her. Specifically, after witnessing two soldiers harassing Esmeralda over her (honestly acquired) earnings when he first arrives in the city, Phoebus blocks their way with his horse, Achilles, when they pursue her, and stall them long enough for her to get away. During the Festival of Fools when Quasimodo was tortured by the crowd when one of Frollo's soldiers starts a riot he requests permission to "Stop the cruelty" and he tells him that Quasimodo needs to learn a lesson and he will put it to a stop but the cruelty is put to a stop by Esmeralda who was enraged at Frollo for letting the crowd torture Quasimodo. The second time, he follows her into the cathedral after Frollo issues an order to arrest her for her defiant acts against him at the Feast of Fools and, when Frollo and a handful of soldiers arrive to arrest Esmeralda, Phoebus takes the initiative and claims sanctuary for her. Notably, his first real encounter with Esmeralda in the cathedral involved an impromptu sword vs. candle-holder fight when she believes he intends to arrest her—he flirts the entire time, if awkwardly, and they eventually reach a place of discourse before being interrupted by Frollo.
Additionally, Phoebus in the film is shown to be a man of principle and integrity, as well as a man with a sense of humor. Throughout the movie, Phoebus expresses disdain and disapproval for Frollo's increasingly unjust acts against the gypsies of Paris. In fact, when first faced with Frollo's intentions for summoning him to Paris, Phoebus openly displays skepticism over being called on "to capture fortune tellers and palm readers." It is Frollo's order to burn the home of an innocent miller and his family suspected of harboring gypsies, with the family still inside, which finally prompts Phoebus to rebel against Frollo, cementing Phoebus's "hero" role in opposition of the film's villain. After he is wounded by Frollo's thugs for saving the miller's family and defying Frollo, Esmeralda (who had been watching the events the entire time in hiding) saves Phoebus from drowning when, as a result of his wounds, he falls from his escape horse into the Seine river. She seeks Quasimodo for help and hides him in Notre Dame. He is later arrested by Frollo after he found the Court of Miracles, but manages to escape and rallies the citizens of Paris and French forces against Frollo's tyranny. After they defeat Frollo and his thugs (when Quasimodo poured molten lead into the city to protect the church), Quasimodo gives the two his blessing as a couple.
In The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Phoebus has a son named Zephyr with Esmeralda as the mother. He still serves as the Captain of the Guard under the new (but unseen) Minister of Justice Frollo's successor who also fought Frollo and his thugs some of Frollo's thugs rejoin the French forces following the death of Frollo, is still a good friend of Quasimodo's, and is the first to suspect Sarousch and his circus troupe of thievery after several people complain to him about being robbed during Sarousch's performance. His belief leads to a temporary rift between himself, Esmeralda, Quasimodo and Zephyr, but when Sarousch's guilt is proven, all is forgiven. In the climax, Phoebus almost allows Sarousch to escape when the thief presents Zephyr as a hostage, but after Quasimodo and Madellaine rescue Zephyr, Phoebus finally takes the chance to order the guards to arrest Sarousch for good.
Aesthetically, Phoebus of the movie differs significantly from most of the animated Disney feature films' leading men. Not a fresh faced youth, as he mentions offhand in the film that he'd not been in town for "a couple decades", though it is possible that he hadn't been in town since early childhood.
Phoebus appears in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance along with a world based on the Disney movie called "La Cité des Cloches". In the game, he plays out the same role as in the film, although he is initially depicted as Frollo's sole enforcer rather than leading Frollo's thugs, who do not appear in the game. In the English version, he is voiced by Phil LaMarr, since Kevin Kline was unable to reprise the role.
|Herbert Heyes||1917 Adaptation|
|Arthur Kingsley||1922 Adaptation|
|Norman Kerry||1923 Adaptation|
|Alan Marshal||1939 Adaptation|
|Jean Danet||1956 Adaptation|
|Alexander Davion (voice)||1966 Adaptation|
|Richard Morant||1977 Adaptation|
|Robert Powell||1982 Adaptation|
|Kevin Kline (voice)||1996 Disney Adaptation and its direct-to-video sequel|
|Benedick Blythe||The Hunchback (1997 film)|
|Patrick Fiori||1997-2002, musical|
|Vincent Elbaz||1999 Parody|
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Characters at SparkNotes.com
- Rebello, Stephen. The Art of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) ISBN 0-7868-6208-4