Claude Frollo

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Claude Frollo
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame character
ND-de-Paris-L4-Ch1-LesBonnesAmes.png
Claude Frollo holding infant Quasimodo on the steps of Notre Dame in 1480. Art by Luc-Olivier Merson.
Created by Victor Hugo
Information
Gender Male
Occupation Archdeacon
Judge (most film adaptations)
Family Jehan (younger brother)
Children Quasimodo (adopted son)
Religion Roman Catholicism
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, but he's been made into a judge in the early film adaptations and Disney's 1996 animated movie due to the Motion Picture Production Code.

In the Novel[edit]

In his youth, Claude Frollo was a highly knowledgeable but morose young man 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. He rescues Quasimodo, a deformed hunchback child whom he finds abandoned on the cathedral's foundlings bed. He adopts him, 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. When a visitor to Frollo's quarters sees a fly caught in a web and tries to save the fly, Frollo sharply holds him back, saying, "Do not interfere with the workings of fate!" His dour, prematurely aged appearance (at thirty-six he is already nearly bald), as well as 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 Phoebes and Esmeralda prepare to copulate, Frollo, in a jealous rage, stabs Phoebes, and kisses Esmeralda when she faints. He does not attempt to intercede when she is turned over to the magistrate on charges of witchcraft and murder, however, 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 Phoebes, 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. This is the last that is seen of Esmeralda.

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 instantly.

Movie Adaptations[edit]

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, and the villain of the film is actually his younger brother Jehan. The 1939 sound film version also did the same, only it portrayed 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, which had the same conditions aside from the name change: Claude is the judge rather than an archdeacon, the Archdeacon is a separate character entirely, and the character of Jehan is omitted. Many conclude that such changes were made to avoid a negative reaction from religious organizations.

Actor Version Character
Victor Hugo's novel Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Claude Garry 1911 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Walter Law 1917 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Annesley Healy 1922 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Brandon Hurst 1923 adaptation Jehan Frollo
Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 adaptation Judge Jean Frollo
Alain Cuny 1956 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
James Maxwell (voice) 1966 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Kenneth Haigh 1977 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Derek Jacobi 1982 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Ron Haddrick (voice) 1986 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Vlasta Vrána (voice) 1995 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Tony Jay (voice) 1996 Disney adaptation Judge Claude Frollo
Richard Harris 1997 adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Daniel Lavoie 1997-2002, musical Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Richard Berry 1999 parody Serge Frollo
Patrick Page 2014-2015, musical Archdeacon Claude Frollo

Disney version[edit]

Judge Claude Frollo
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First appearance The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Created by Kathy Zielinski
Dominique Monféry
Voiced by Tony Jay (film)
Corey Burton (Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance)

An adaptation of the character, Judge Claude Frollo is the main antagonist in Disney's animated film version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). Frollo was animated by Kathy Zielinski and Dominique Monféry, and 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 is a justice minister; he has a hatred towards the gypsies, seeing them as "impure commoners". By his own admission (in a conversation with Phoebus), he wants nothing more than to eliminate them from Paris completely. He spends most of his time in Notre Dame Cathedral. His soldiers are little more than common thugs who enforce his will. He lacks much of the original character's compassion and deep emotion, becoming more of an evil villain than a tragic anti-hero. He is coldly intelligent, vindictive, and arrogantly sadistic, with little to no compassion or understanding for anyone or anything except himself. The opening song, "The Bells of Notre Dame", notes that he longs "to purge the world of vice and sin" and sees "corruption everywhere" except in himself. Frollo is also symbolic of religious hypocrisy, which was also an enduring theme in the novel. The Disney film also omits Frollo's capacity for compassion present in Hugo's original novel, instead adding a selfish interpretation to his adoption of Quasimodo. However, he still has lustful feelings for Esmeralda, and plans to have her executed if she refuses to love him. 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.

Frollo first appeared in 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, thinking she is hiding a bundle of "stolen goods" in her possession. She attempts to flee and Frollo pursues her to Notre Dame, where he grabs the bundle from her, kicking her hard when she refuses to relinquish it. She falls and strikes her head on the steps of Notre Dame, dying as a result. 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 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, Frollo, disgusted by Quasimodo's appearance, decides to keep him within the towers of Notre Dame unseen. 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, claiming 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. Shortly afterwards, 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 grasping her from behind. 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 him consummate his lust for her. A smoke apparition of Esmeralda emerges from the fireplace (pictured above), and Frollo embraces it passionately, there is a knock at the door. 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 him or she will burn. Frollo begins a ruthless campaign to find her, which involves the besieging of numerous houses and the capture of gypsies. The good-hearted Phoebus is clearly upset, but follows orders until Frollo attempts to kill an innocent family for sheltering gypsies. Phoebus rescues the family; Frollo then declares him a traitor and attempts to have him executed. He escapes on Frollo's horse as Frollo orders his guards to fire at his former captain. He is rescued by Esmeralda after being left for dead.

Discovering that Quasimodo assisted Esmeralda, Frollo manipulates him 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 discovers that Phoebus has survived and intends to "remedy that". With Phoebus and the gypsies confined to cages and Quasimodo chained up in the bell tower, Frollo gives Esmeralda his ultimatum - either give herself to him or face death. She is disgusted by him, and refuses by spitting in his face. As 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. He charges into the cathedral, throwing the Archdeacon down a flight of stairs when he tries to intervene. He attempts to kill Quasimodo, resulting in a violent struggle in which Quasimodo overpowers Frollo and throws him to the floor. 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 you." When an exhausted Esmeralda regains consciousness, an enraged Frollo chases them onto a balcony overlooking the city.

As he and Quasimodo confront one another, 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!"

At that moment, 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. 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 the Satanic fires of Hell for all eternity 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.

In the sequel The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, 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.

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 movie 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. In the Riku scenario. 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.

Reception[edit]

Despite the changes to Frollo's character, the Disney version has been acclaimed, and has often been called one of the greatest of all Disney villains, and often is considered one of, if not the darkest.[1][2]

See also[edit]

Esmeralda

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 15 Greatest Disney Villains". Topless Robot. 
  2. ^ Top 10 Animated Disney Villains. YouTube. 8 September 2013. 

External links[edit]