Claude Frollo

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Claude Frollo
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame character
Claude Frollo holding infant Quasimodo on the steps of Notre Dame in 1480. Art by Luc-Olivier Merson.
Created by Victor Hugo
Full name Claude Frollo
Occupation Archdeacon of Notre Dame cathedral
Affiliation Members of the church
Title Dom
Family Jehan Frollo (younger brother)
Significant other(s) Esmeralda
Children Quasimodo (adopted son)
Religion Catholic
Nationality French

Monseigneur Claude Frollo ([klod fʁɔlo]) is a fictional character and the main antagonist from Victor Hugo's 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. He is the Archdeacon of Notre Dame.

In the novel[edit]

Dom Claude Frollo was a highly knowledgeable but morose individual who was orphaned along with his infant younger brother Jehan when their parents died of the plague. His studies led him to become the Archdeacon of Josas, which is his position during the events of the novel. He also has a small fief which brings him a little money, most of which goes to fund his brother's alcoholism.

Frollo has a deeply compassionate side. During a holiday at Notre Dame called Quasimodo Sunday, he rescues a deformed hunchback child whom he finds abandoned on the cathedral's foundlings bed. He adopts him, names him Quasimodo after the holiday, raises him like a son, cares for him, and teaches him a sort of sign language when Quasimodo becomes deaf. Frollo is a respected scholar and studies several languages, law, medicine, science and theology. However, he becomes infatuated with alchemy, which leads townspeople to spread the rumor that he is a sorcerer. He also believes strongly in fate. All this, along with his extreme and irrational fear of women, contribute further to his isolation from society.

Frollo also has strong passions even though he is a celibate due to his station within the church. These passions erupt in him through his contact with the beautiful Gypsy girl Esmeralda, and eventually they prove his undoing. He considers her to be a temptation sent by the Devil to test his faith, and begins by cursing her as a demoness, but finds he cannot resist her, and determines to give in to temptation. Esmeralda, however, is repulsed by his impassioned advances. Frollo orders Quasimodo to abduct her, a crime that Frollo himself instigated out of mad lust for her, and then abandons him when the hunchback is suddenly captured by Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers and his guards. Frollo even ignores the poor hunchback when he sees him being publicly tortured for the crime. When Frollo discovers that Esmeralda is in love with Phoebus, he spies on the meeting between them which Esmeralda has arranged – with Phoebus' consent, as Phoebus only wants one night of passion. As Phoebus and Esmeralda prepare to copulate, Frollo, in a jealous rage, stabs Phoebus, and kisses Esmeralda when she faints before fleeing.

Frollo does not attempt to intercede when Esmeralda is turned over to the magistrate on charges of witchcraft and attempted murder, but he stabs himself during her torture and shows her the wound as a proof of his love for her. She is unmoved however, as she is still in love with Phoebus, even after discovering the truth about his infatuation with her, and shortly before her execution he comes completely undone and leaves Paris in a feverish madness, not realizing that his adopted son, Quasimodo, has rescued her from the gallows. When he returns to the news that Esmeralda is still alive, he quickly becomes as jealous of Quasimodo as he was of Phoebus; the thought drives him to further insanity. Frollo later attempts to rape her at her sanctuary in the cathedral, only to be brutally beaten and nearly killed by Quasimodo, who doesn't realize who he is until he staggers into the moonlight. Frollo has had enough, and decides to rid himself of Esmeralda by handing her over to the authorities.

Frollo's time comes when a group of scoundrels, enraged by news that the French monarchy has ordered Esmeralda to be taken from the cathedral and hanged within three days, arms themselves to assault Notre Dame Cathedral. While Quasimodo is busy fighting off the scoundrels, Pierre Gringoire, Esmeralda's husband – whom she only married to save his life – and a hooded figure sneak into the Cathedral and convince Esmeralda to sneak out with them. The man's face is hidden behind a hood, leaving Esmeralda to guess his identity. They flee to a boat on the River Seine, then separate when they head to shore, with Gringoire taking her goat, Djali, and leaving Esmeralda with the unknown man. The hooded figure drags Esmeralda to a nearby gallows and identifies himself as Frollo by removing his hood.

Frollo issues Esmeralda his final ultimatum: either she must accept his love, or he shall hand her over to the authorities. In fact, she refuses to reciprocate, so Frollo leaves Esmeralda to an anchoress to hold her for the royal soldiers coming to hang her and goes back to Notre Dame Cathedral. He then walks up to one of the cathedral's towers to watch the girl being hanged, unaware that Quasimodo has spotted him and followed him upstairs. He watches calmly while Esmeralda is taken to the gallows; then when the girl is actually hanged, he bursts into an evil laugh – perhaps he is glad to have her out of his life, or perhaps he sees it as retribution for her rejection of him.

When Quasimodo sees him laughing at Esmeralda's hanging, he becomes enraged and pushes Frollo off the balustrade. A gargoyle stops his fall, and he cries out to Quasimodo for help, but Quasimodo remains silent. Then Frollo falls down off the cathedral, colliding with the roof of a house. He slides down the roof, hits the pavement of the town square and dies.[1]


Victor Hugo's novel has been adapted to film on numerous occasions. In the 1923 silent film version, Claude Frollo's name is changed to Don Claudio, and he is not the villain, but instead a good archdeacon; the villain of the film is actually his younger brother, Jehan. The 1939 sound film version also made a similar change, portraying Claude as an archbishop and Jehan ("Jean" in the film) as a judge. This version of the story is said to be what most influenced the 1996 Disney adaptation,[citation needed] which made the character of Claude a judge rather than an archdeacon; the archdeacon was a separate character entirely, and the character of Jehan was omitted. Many[who?] conclude that such changes were made to avoid a negative reaction from religious organizations.

Also, a lot of these adaptations omit the ending part of Hugo's novel where Frollo holds on to a gargoyle after being pushed off the Notre Dame's balcony at the hands of Quasimodo, and then collides with the roof of a house after falling down from the cathedral and slides to the town square's pavement to his death. Instead, most adaptations just shows Frollo falling off the cathedral top directly to the bottom of the town square where he dies, except the 1982 adaptation, which shows Frollo dying from Quasimodo impailing him with a hook.

Actor Version Character
N/A Victor Hugo's 1831 novel Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Claude Garry 1911 film Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Walter Law 1917 film Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Annesley Healy 1922 film Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Nigel De Brulier 1923 film Don Claudio
Walter Hampden 1939 film Archbishop[2]
Alain Cuny 1956 film Archdeacon Claude Frollo
James Maxwell (voice) 1966 animated television series Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Kenneth Haigh 1977 television film Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Derek Jacobi 1982 television film Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Ron Haddrick (voice) 1986 animated film Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Vlasta Vrána (voice) 1996 animated television series Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Tony Jay (voice) 1996 animated Disney film Judge Claude Frollo
Richard Harris 1997 television film Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Daniel Lavoie 1997–2002 musical Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Richard Berry 1999 parody film Serge Frollo
Patrick Page 2014–2015 musical Archdeacon Claude Frollo

Disney version[edit]

Judge Claude Frollo
Disney character
First appearance The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Created by Kathy Zielinski
Dominique Monféry
Voiced by Tony Jay
Occupation Judge
Minister of Justice

Appearance in the first film[edit]

In Disney's 1996 animated film version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo, whose features were inspired from the actor Stewart Granger's ones, was voiced by Tony Jay, whom directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale chose for the role based on his brief appearance in their previous film, Beauty and the Beast (1991). Frollo's compassionate and caring side from Victor Hugo's original novel is omitted from the film, instead showing an extremely evil side of him. In this version, he is portrayed a merciless, pompous and religious Minister of Justice of Paris whose goal in life is to rid the world of sin, as he sees corruption all around him except within himself. This is shown by his intense hatred towards gypsies and his desire to wipe out the entire race, as he believes "they live outside the normal order" and that "their heathen ways inflame the [Parisian] people's lowest instincts". Much like in Victor Hugo's original novel, he is Quasimodo's caregiver, displays religious hypocrisy (an enduring theme in the novel), refuses to help Quasimodo when tormented by a crowd of Parisians, lusts for Esmeralda, considers her a demon because of this, plans to see her dead if she refuses to be his, and falls off Notre Dame to his death. However, Frollo's willingness towards his adoption of Quasimodo (also found in the novel) is not present in the film, instead showing a selfish and reluctant interpretation of this. Due to his actions in the film, Frollo is widely regarded and remembered as one of the darkest Disney villains of all time. Frollo is also perceived as a tragic figure, tormented by his maddening self-righteousness and narrow views. In the final verse of "Hellfire", he asks God to have mercy on both him and Esmeralda, implying that he ultimately knows that his actions are against God's will (even though he constantly thinks his horrible actions are in God's will, making him a complex character). Although he does not show any love and compassion for other people, Frollo's only traces of humanity lie in his abilities to teach and feed Quasimodo, as well as teaching him the concept of forgiveness. He is also an animal lover, as shown by his fondness and concern towards his horse Snowball (when Phoebus escapes on Frollo's horse, Frollo orders "Get him! And don't hit my horse!").

Frollo appears in the beginning of the film, when he and his men capture several gypsies illegally entering Paris. After having the gypsy men chained and arrested, Frollo chases a gypsy woman, convinced she is hiding a bundle of "stolen goods" in her possession. She attempts to flee and Frollo pursues her to Notre Dame. He grabs the bundle from her, kicking her so hard when she refuses to relinquish it that she bashes her head on the steps of Notre Dame and dies from concussion. Frollo discovers that the "stolen goods" are absolutely nothing at all but just the woman's hideously deformed baby son. Thinking the child is an "unholy demon", Frollo attempts to drown him in a nearby well, but is thwarted by the cathedral's Archdeacon, who accuses Frollo of killing an innocent woman on the steps of Notre Dame. He demands that Frollo must raise the baby as his own son as penance. Fearing eternal damnation for his crime, Frollo agrees, hoping to somehow use the child to further his own purposes. Naming the boy Quasimodo after his deformities, Frollo decides to keep him within the towers of Notre Dame. He raises Quasimodo with the bleakest of religious doctrines, as well as forcibly isolating him from the outside world. Frollo convinces him that he will never be accepted by society, explicitly due to his appearance, which he teaches Quasimodo to be ashamed of. He also lies to him about his mother, saying that she abandoned him when he was a baby.

Twenty years later, Frollo appoints a new Captain of the Guard, Phoebus, stating his intent to eradicate the city's Gypsy population by discovering their sanctuary, the "Court of Miracles". He hopes to clear the gypsies out of Paris with Phoebus' help and go to Heaven when he dies. While attending the annual Festival of Fools, Frollo discovers a Gypsy dancer named Esmeralda, who attracts him with her beauty; she dances in front of him and kisses him on the nose. At the same time, he discovers that Quasimodo left the bell tower and joined the Festival and was crowned the King of Fools. Frollo does not help Quasimodo when he is being humiliated in public by the crowd; in fact, he refuses Phoebus' request to stop it, and it infuriates him when Esmeralda defiantly decides to assist Quasimodo instead. Esmeralda ridicules Frollo, who immediately orders her arrested, just before she claims sanctuary within Notre Dame. Frollo later confronts Esmeralda, disturbing her by sniffing her hair inappropriately. He states that she is still in a "prison" and that, as soon as she leaves, she is "mine".

Frollo's lustful vision of Esmeralda from his fireplace.

That evening in the Palace of Justice, Frollo is disturbed by his attraction to Esmeralda. He pleas the Virgin Mary to protect him from Esmeralda's "spell" and to "let [Esmeralda] taste the fires of Hell", or else let her be his lover. A smoke apparition of Esmeralda emerges from the fireplace (pictured right), and it and Frollo embrace passionately. The apparition disappears as a guard enters, informing Frollo that Esmeralda escaped from the Cathedral of Notre Dame where Frollo had "imprisoned" her. Frollo vows to find her, even if it involves burning down all of Paris. The guard then leaves, and Frollo continues singing, claiming that he will give Esmeralda an ultimatum: she must choose to be his lover or she will burn. Frollo asks God to have mercy on both him and Esmeralda, implying that he ultimately knows that his actions are against God's will. As he sings, shadowy figures holding crucifixes emerge from the light of the fireplace and fly past Frollo, who then drops to his knees, saying that Esmeralda will be his lover or she will burn. Finishing the song, Frollo passes out and falls face down on the floor in the shape of a crucifix as the fire fades.

Frollo begins a ruthless campaign to find her, which involves the besieging of numerous houses and the capture of gypsies, even going so far as to bribe the gypsies to reveal Esmeralda's location. Refusing to cooperate, Frollo locks them up. The good-hearted Phoebus, having enough, saves an innocent family for sheltering gypsies. Frollo, seeing that Phoebus has disobeyed him, orders his soldiers to kill him, but Phoebus escapes before being hit by one of the soldiers' arrows. Later, Frollo visits Quasimodo in the bell tower and, realizing that Quasimodo assisted Esmeralda, he manipulates the hunchback into believing that the Court of Miracles has been found and will be attacked at dawn with a thousand men. A misled Quasimodo accompanies Phoebus to the Court to warn Esmeralda, and Frollo and his men follow them and arrest the gypsies. Frollo says, "Why, he led me right to you, my dear", caressing Esmeralda's cheek lovingly. Phoebus and the gypsies are confined to cages and Quasimodo is chained up in the bell tower; Esmeralda rejects Frollo's advances and he prepares to burn her at the stake. Quasimodo breaks free and rescues her, then takes her into the cathedral. Frollo orders his soldiers to seize the cathedral by force.

Phoebus is able to free himself and incite the citizens to revolt against Frollo's tyranny. Despite this, the soldiers continue their assault on Notre Dame until Quasimodo pours molten copper from the cathedral into the streets, forcing them to flee, only Frollo remains. Losing the last of his sanity, he charges into the cathedral, where the archdeacon attempts to intervene, only for him to be thrown aside, and Frollo locks the door, to prevent him from interfering. He comes across Quasimodo mourning over a seemingly dead Esmeralda and attempts to kill Quasimodo, resulting in a violent struggle in which Quasimodo overpowers Frollo and throws him to the floor. Frightened, Frollo momentarily abandons his pride and begs for mercy, but Quasimodo is finally able to break free from Frollo's manipulation and abuse, stating: "all my life you told me the world is a dark, cruel place; but now I see the only thing dark and cruel about it is people like you." Suddenly, Esmeralda regains consciousness, and an incredulous Frollo cries out, "She lives!", drawing a sword, and chasing them onto a balcony overlooking the city.

As he attempts again to kill Quasimodo and Esmeralda, the maddened Frollo finally admits that he was responsible for the death of Quasimodo's mother, and declares that he will kill Quasimodo. Frollo subsequently uses his cape to knock Quasimodo off the balcony, but Quasimodo manages to grab on and ends up pulling Frollo down (but is unwilling to let him fall) as well. Frollo dangles momentarily but is able to climb onto a nearby gargoyle in perfect position to kill Esmeralda, who is attempting to save Quasimodo. Frollo raises his sword and maniacally quotes a faux Bible verse created for the film:

"And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!"

Immediately, the gargoyle that he is standing on starts breaking off and he loses his balance and falls, clinging onto the gargoyle and dropping his sword in the process. In an apparent vision, the face of the gargoyle becomes the face of Satan and roars at Frollo, terrifying him and making him scream in terror. The gargoyle then breaks off entirely from the balcony, sending a screaming Frollo falling to his death into the lake of molten copper created by Quasimodo, clearly indicated to symbolize that his soul is now trapped in eternal damnation in Hell as punishment for his unholy actions and behavior, as well as ending his tyranny once and for all. The fate of his thugs is unknown, it is presumed that they are either arrested for their crimes or dismissed from service by Phoebus, who is reinstated as Captain of the Guard.

Referenced in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II[edit]

In Disney's 2002 direct-to-video sequel, when Sarousch (a gypsy master criminal and the main antagonist of the film) reminds Madellaine that when he caught her stealing food from him when she was little, he took her in instead of handing her to the authorities. Although Frollo is not named, it is very possible that he was the person Sarousch would have turned Madellaine over to. He is also mentioned when Clopin announces Esmeralda's dancing performance, and jokingly tells a young boy that she just "might steal your heart," using a puppet that looked a lot like Frollo, referencing Frollo's lust for Esmeralda. Also, when Madellaine (who was Sarousch's assistant until she fell in love with Quasimodo) tries to convince him to trust her into helping him stop Sarousch, Quasimodo coldly replies "I already made that mistake", possibly referring to how Frollo deceived Quasimodo for twenty years into loyalty to the former.

Other appearances[edit]

  • Frollo appears in the Disney's Hollywood Studios night-time show Fantasmic!, called on by the Evil Queen to fight Mickey Mouse. He is destroyed along with the other villains in the show's conclusion. Frollo made appearances at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the daily Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade. In 2009, the parade moved to the Walt Disney Studios park at Disneyland Resort Paris and it is uncertain if Frollo will appear in this version, renamed Stars'n'Cars. Frollo makes a brief cameo appearance during the night-time show Disney's World of Color at Disney California Adventure Park. "Hellfire", the song that Frollo sings in the feature film, is also heard in the show. Frollo also appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meetable character.
  • Frollo makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the House of Mouse special House of Villains. At one time, he was sitting with the Mad Hatter who was annoying him and making fun of his bulbous hat, but he had no dialogue. He also appeared sitting near the two outraged guests, but still no dialogue.
  • Frollo appears in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, along with a world based on the Disney film called La Cité des Cloches. He plays out the same role as in the movie, though he is one of the few Disney villains who does not serve as a boss battle due to the Wargoyle Dreameater which he believed to be of divine origins. While the Sora scenario had Frollo die in the same manner as the movie, the Riku scenario had him fall to his death as a consequence of an updraft called by Wargoyle. He is voiced by Shouzou Sasaki in the Japanese version and by Corey Burton in the English version.
  • Frollo leads a team of Disney villains in The Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play in order to free their leaders, Maleficent and Chernabog.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hugo, Victor (1 January 1993). "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame". Wordsworth Editions – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-10-24. 

External links[edit]