Claude Frollo

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Claude Frollo
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame character
Luc-Olivier Merson - Frollo.jpg
Claude Frollo holding infant Quasimodo on the steps of Notre Dame in 1480. Art by Luc-Olivier Merson.
Created byVictor Hugo
In-universe information
OccupationArchdeacon of Notre Dame cathedral
AffiliationMembers of the church
FamilyJehan Frollo (younger brother)
ChildrenQuasimodo (adopted son)

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

In the novel[edit]

Dom Claude Frollo is a pious and highly knowledgeable man who was orphaned along with his 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.

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 the boy, names him "Quasimodo" after the holiday, raises him like a son, and teaches him a sort of sign language when Quasimodo is deafened by the cathedral's bells. 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 16 year old Roma (then termed gypsy) girl Esméralda, and eventually they prove his undoing. He considers her to be a temptation sent by the Devil to test his faith, and curses her as a demon. He finds he cannot resist her, however, and determines to give in to temptation. Esmeralda, however, is repulsed by his advances. Frollo orders Quasimodo to abduct her for him, and then abandons him when the hunchback is suddenly captured by Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers and his guards. Frollo even ignores Quasimodo when he sees him being publicly humiliated 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. Phoebus only wants one night of passion. As Phoebus and Esmeralda are about to make love, 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 lust for her. She is unmoved, however. She is also still in love with Phoebus. Shortly before the day she is to be executed, Frollo leaves Paris in a feverish madness, not realizing that Quasimodo – who is also in love with her – has rescued her from the gallows. When he returns to the news that Esmeralda is still alive, he becomes as jealous of Quasimodo as he was of Phoebus. Frollo later attempts to rape her at her sanctuary in the cathedral, but Quasimodo – who doesn't realize who Esmeralda's attacker is at first – comes to the girl's defense and beats Frollo up. Angered and humiliated, Frollo decides to rid himself of Esmeralda by handing her over to the authorities.

Frollo's opportunity to abduct and force Esmeralda 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, arm themselves to assault Notre Dame Cathedral. While Quasimodo is busy fighting off the scoundrels, Pierre Gringoire, Esmeralda's legal 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 Esmeralda's goat, Djali, and leaving her 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 submit to him, or he will hand her over to the authorities. She rejects him, so he leaves her 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.

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. Due to policy of the NAMPI Thirteen Points,[2] the filmmakers of the 1923 film adaptation would not portray a member of the Roman Catholic Church in a negative and controversial light. As a result, Claude Frollo (played by Nigel de Brulier) is not the villain, but instead a good-hearted archdeacon of Notre Dame, and the villain of the film is actually his younger brother Jehan (played by Brandon Hurst). The 1939 film had a similar change for the same reason due to policy of the Hays Production Code;[2][3] the only difference is that Jehan (played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke) is portrayed as King Louis XI's Chief Justice of Paris, and Claude (played by Walter Hampden) is portrayed as the Archbishop of Paris. In Disney's 1996 animated film, Claude Frollo (voiced by Tony Jay) is Paris' judge/Minister of Justice and the villain as in the novel, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame is a separate character entirely (and voiced by David Ogden Stiers), and the character of Jehan is omitted.

Among the actors who played Claude Frollo over the years in each adaptation of the novel are:

Actor Version
Claude Garry 1911 film
Walter Law The Darling of Paris (1917 film)
Annesley Healy Esmeralda (1922 film)
Nigel DeBrulier 1923 film
Walter Hampden[4][5][6] 1939 film
Alain Cuny 1956 film
James Maxwell 1966 cartoon TV show
Kenneth Haigh 1977 TV show
Derek Jacobi 1982 TV film
Ron Haddrick (voice) 1986 animated film
Vlasta Vrána (voice) The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo (1996 cartoon TV show)
Tony Jay (voice) 1996 Disney animated film
Richard Harris 1997 TV film
Daniel Lavoie Notre Dame de Paris (1997-2002 musical)
Richard Berry (as Serge Frollo) Quasimodo d'El Paris (1999 parody film)
Kevin Doyle (voice) 2008 BBC Radio adaptation
Patrick Page 2014-2015 musical
Russell Crowe TBA

Jehan actually did appear as he was originally portrayed in the novel in the following adaptations:

Disney version[edit]

Claude Frollo
Disney character
First appearanceThe Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Created byKathy Zielinski
Dominique Monféry
Portrayed byNorbert Lamla (1999 musical)
Patrick Page (2014 musical)
Voiced byTony Jay (1996–2005)
Corey Burton (Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance)
In-universe information
Minister of Justice
Archdeacon (2014 musical)
FamilyJehan Frollo (younger brother) (2014 musical)
ChildrenQuasimodo (adoptive son)

In Disney's 1996 animated film version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Judge Claude Frollo was voiced by Tony Jay, whom directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale chose for the role based on his brief appearance as Monsieur D'Arque in their previous film, Beauty and the Beast (1991) and animated by Kathy Zielinski. Features of the character were inspired by the actor Stewart Granger and Hans Conreid, especially the latter's appearance in the 1953 film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.[7] The film's producer, Don Hahn, stated that the character of Frollo was inspired by Ralph Fiennes' performance in Schindler's List as Amon Göth, a Nazi who hates and murders Jews, yet desires his Jewish maid.[8] Screenwriter Tab Murphy made Frollo Paris' justice minister rather than an archdeacon, thus avoiding religious sensibilities in the finished film.[9]

Frollo is portrayed in the film as a ruthless, self-righteous, and fanatically religious French Minister of Justice. He views the world and everyone in it (except for himself) as corrupt and sinful, and reserves particular hatred for Paris' Gypsy population, whom he longs to exterminate. Like his original character in Hugo's novel, Frollo lusts after Esmeralda to the point of obsession, and resolves that she will submit to him or die. Frollo believes everything he does is in accordance with God's will, despite frequent disagreements with the Archdeacon of Notre Dame.[10] Trousdale described the film's Frollo as "a horrible, horrible person", while Jay compared him to Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.[7]

In the film, Frollo and his soldiers capture a group of Gypsy peasants attempting to sneak illegally into Paris on a boat. A Gypsy woman in the group attempts to flee with her deformed baby, but Frollo kills her outside Notre Dame Cathedral. He tries to kill the baby as well, but the cathedral's archdeacon intervenes and accuses Frollo of murdering an innocent woman. Fearing divine retribution, Frollo reluctantly agrees to raise the deformed child in Notre Dame as his son, to atone for his sin and in the hope that the hunchback will someday be useful to him. He names the child "Quasimodo", teaching him that the world outside the cathedral is a sinful place full of people who would hate and shun him for his deformity.

Twenty years later, in the Palace of Justice, 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". While attending the annual Festival of Fools, Frollo discovers a Gypsy dancer, Esmeralda, who dances in front of him and kisses him on the nose. He finds that Quasimodo has left the bell tower and joined the Festival. Quasimodo is humiliated by the crowd after two of Frollo's guards start a riot. Frollo refuses to help Quasimodo, going so far as to refuse Phoebus' request to stop the cruelty, until Esmeralda defiantly frees Quasimodo. Esmeralda berates Frollo for refusing to help Quasimodo, as well as his cruel treatment of gypsies and other outcasts, and uses a magic trick to evade arrest. Phoebus refuses to arrest her for alleged witchcraft inside Notre Dame and instead tells Frollo that she has claimed sanctuary inside the cathedral; the archdeacon orders Frollo and his men out. Frollo discovers Esmeralda attracts him with her beauty, groping her and sniffing her hair, before she pushes him away.

Frollo soon develops lustful feelings for Esmeralda and begs the Virgin Mary to save him from her "spell"; he then resolves that she will be his, or she will die, asking God to have mercy on both of them. When Frollo learns that Esmeralda has escaped Notre Dame, he instigates a citywide manhunt for her, capturing and bribing Gypsies and burning countless houses in his way. Phoebus is appalled by Frollo's actions and openly defies him, and Frollo orders him executed. While fleeing, Phoebus is struck by an arrow and falls into the River Seine, but Esmeralda rescues him and takes him to Notre Dame for refuge.

Realising that Quasimodo helped Esmeralda escape, Frollo returns to Notre Dame and lies to him, saying that he knows where the Court of Miracles is and will attack it. Following Quasimodo and Phoebus to the Court of Miracles, Frollo and his men capture all the Gypsies present. Frollo prepares to burn Esmeralda at the stake, but offers to spare her life if she submits to his desires. A disgusted Esmeralda rejects his advances, and Frollo prepares to execute her. Quasimodo rescues her, however, and brings her to the cathedral. Frollo orders his soldiers to seize the cathedral, even going as far as ignoring the archdeacon's pleas for him to stop. Phoebus releases the Gypsies, rallying the citizens of Paris against Frollo and his men, and Quasimodo pours molten lead onto the streets. Frollo pursues Quasimodo and Esmeralda to the cathedral's balcony, where he climbs onto a gargoyle and raises his sword to strike at Esmeralda, but the gargoyle crumbles underneath him, causing him to lose his balance. In a vision, Frollo sees the gargoyle's demonic face come to life and snarl at him. The gargoyle then breaks off entirely, sending a terrified Frollo falling to his death into the molten lead.

Later 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. He is seen sitting with the Mad Hatter, who makes fun of his bulbous hat. He has 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. In the video game, he mistakes Sora for a gypsy, and Riku refers to him as "a sad old man with a dark heart." During the game, while the Sora scenario has 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 (whom Frollo refers to it as not a "demon", but as "righteous judgement", a power granted to him for wiping out the entire gypsy population "now and forever"). In Dream Drop Distance, Frollo 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 (1831). The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1993 ed.). Ware, Hertfordshire, England: Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 978-1853260681 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b Gilchrist, Marianne M. (July 16, 2010). "Notre Damned: With adaptations, fidelity is a virtue". OurDailyRead. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  3. ^ Pfieffer, Lee. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)". Britannica Online.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)".
  6. ^ "Hunchbackofnotredame". Archived from the original on 2019-07-31. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  7. ^ a b Watson, Grant (June 4, 2014). ""Let her be mine and mine alone" - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)". FictionMachine. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  8. ^ Thompson, Anna; Karger, Dave (June 21, 1996). "Playing a Hunch". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Time, Inc. Archived from the original on December 8, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  9. ^ Mancini, Marc (April 12, 2016). "10 Facts About Disney's The Hunchback Of Notre Dame". Mental Floss. New York City: Dennis Publishing. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  10. ^ "Disney and the Seven Deadly Sins". Retrieved January 8, 2013.

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