June 8, 2011
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January 6th, 1482

I wasn't always such a desperate and tormented soul. I'm not a bad man, I've just begun to do some bad things, as of quite recently.

It's all that cursed gypsy's fault! She's the one that makes my skin burn like a demon doused in Holy Water. She's the one who lit my heart aflame. She makes it impossible to contemplate the mysteries of the universe when constantly eating at my brain are her big black eyes and long dark hair-- Stop it Claude! Thinking of her gets you nowhere. It's driving you insane! Although, for the record, I do quite a bit of talking to myself, it helps the lonely hours pass... Anyway, back to my plea. As I previously stated, I wasn't always like this...

However... Perhaps my unfortunate plight isn't really the gypsy's fault at all. Perhaps it was just Fate. Yes. Fate. It must have been Fate,and one should never intervene with the workings of Fate. The fly caught in the spider's web learns that the hard way... but I must not muse over Fate nor the gypsy girl any longer!

Instead, I'll tell you about my childhood. How I got to be where I am, how I came to be the way I am. That should take my mind off of her, and show you how the powers of predestination set me up to fail in this way.

I was born to parents of petty nobility, and the name Frollo, on the Tirechappe estate. For most of my life, I was an only child, and therefore the only son they could put to the world to bring success. They groomed me from birth to be a member of the clergy, so I was sent to school quickly to flourish for them. I went to the College de Torchi, where I found my potential to be stimulated, undoubtedly. I attended various lectures whilst at school, and participated wholeheartedly in their discussions. When I had finished my learnings of theology, I found that my hunger for knowledge was not satiated. I set out to educate myself on anything and everything: philosophy, medicine, the liberal arts, Latin, Greek, Hebrew. Science, next to theology and philosophy, was my favorite. It even led me down the path of questionable righteousness by pursuing the illegitimate science of alchemy. I couldn't stop basking in the glowing light of knowledge.

Then, in 1466, the Plague hit, and I had heard while still at school that the village where I had grown up had been enveloped with particular vigor. With one last ray of hope, I returned to Tirechappe a day later, but it was too late. I found both of my parents, neither one with any life left in their bodies. There was some life in the room, though, in a cradle in the corner. It was a newborn baby boy. My brother, Jehan. I saw him lying there, tears rolling down his bulbous baby cheeks. He wanted affection. I gave it to him.

In the first moment I looked at Jehan, I realized what love was. I knew that he needed me, and I had a feeling in my chest that made it seem like my heart would burst. I'd never felt that feeling before. I didn't think I would feel that feeling ever again. For a long time, Jehan became the only thing I had in the world. I put as much time and effort into bettering his education as I did into bettering my own. I took strides to acheive as much success as I possibly could in as little time as possible, and found that my dilligence paid off splendidly. At the age of twenty, I was deemed a priest of Notre Dame. Now, at only thirty-six, I am the Archdeacon of Josas. And while Jehan was raised in Moulin rather than in Notre Dame with me, I still had a chance to watch him grow up to become a scholar. I had all of the best intentions for him, and hoped he would fulfill them. However, I had insurance in the event that he didn't.

When he was only four years old, there was a small child placed in the Foundlings Bed outside of Notre Dame. It was a hideous little boy, with a deformed face and body, and he would wail incessantly. The passersby would just insult the poor child, without offering him an ounce of Parisian compassion. It occured to me, that perhaps if I were to adopt this child and raise him, it would be a good enough deed to account for all of the sins that Jehan may commit. So, I did indeed adopt the boy, and I named him Quasimodo (which, in Latin means "half-formed", in case you are uneducated in the beautiful language of Latin and speak only the French vernacular). I made him the bell-ringer of the cathedral, and raised him well within the walls of Notre Dame. I tired to educate him as well, but it became increasingly difficult due to his astounding pessism, and the hearing loss he developed from ringing the bells. I manuvered around that obstacle, though, by creating a language specifically for Quasimodo and I. A language of signs and hand gestures. This way, he can communicate with me, and me alone, which is really all he needs. He is clay molded in my hands, but I do love Quasimodo,and I raised him and Jehan as if they were my sons. As an added bonus, the insurance I get from adopting and care for that poor wretch turns out to be useful, for as of late, my brother has found his way into all sorts of taverns and trouble, and he seems to take great pleasure in women.

This, I do not understand. However, I will admit that, due to my position in the church, I do not understand women at all. I have never known them, as I have willingly given myself to chastity. Although there is Es-- No! I will not think of her! I don't need women in my life. Women are only necessary to carry on our race, and as I have already raised two boys on my own, I have no need for a woman in my life. I am a man of God.

Speaking of God, today was that infernal Feast of Fools. I despise mingling in the cesspool of the Paris populace to crown an ugly man "Pope". How dare they blaspheme the title "Pope" by bestowing it upon those who do not deserve it. It makes me ill to contemplate what our true Pope would think when given the news that they grant hideous people with his title for the sole purpose that they are indeed hideous. It's nauseating, it is positively nauseating, but alas, I had no choice but to make an appearance, for it's part of my job to participate in the events of the town. Even if those events are as disturbing as the Feast of Fools.

First of all, those cruel Parisians crowned Quasimodo the Pope of Fools. He was celebrated for being terrifyingly ugly, so I decided to detach him from the insulting Parisians and take him back to the Cathedral. However, we didn't go back to the Cathedral. We went for the girl.

Ah yes, the girl. That dreaded gypsy girl. I dare not speak her name. She was dancing at the festival. She twirled around in her colorful skirt, waving her hands above her head. Her hair twisting and turning, and her black eyes burning.

She is, without a doubt, the most beautiful woman in Paris...

But the Devil is often found attractive.

They call her La Esmeralda, and she looks as if she is no more than sixteen years old. What a curious age, filled with naivety. She seems at such peace when she is dancing, but when she stops, she looks darker, as if the demons of Hell swarm around her.

She was wonderful. I needed to see her again. So, I decided to follow her. It sounds like a bad choice, and I guess it probably was. But I wasn't thinking of the consequences at the time. I was consumed with thoughts of her. So Quasimodo and I came across her, and I politely requested that she return to the cathedral with us. She didn't seem to like that idea very much. In fact, I'm pretty sure she spat some expletives at me in a flowing foreign tongue. However, I have never been one to give up when I want something, for my personality has a tendency to be a bit obsessive. So I instructed Quasimodo to carry her to the cathedral. That was my mistake. She started screaming and then some of the guards came running in and released her and captured Quasimodo, but I fled. I am a pillar of the community! Implications in an attempted abduction would have been devastating to my life's work! It probably was a poor decision to leave him alone. I do feel badly about it, but I needed to see Esmeralda again, so I acheived my goal for the night (despite the unforeseen circumstances).

Tomorrow, I will recover Quasimodo, and continue my search for Esme-- that girl... Gah! She is like a parasite in my brain, and I cannot quit the thoughts of her.

I will stop at nothing until she's mine.

January 7th, 1482

Well, I recovered Quasimodo. Unfortunately, it wasn't in as enjoyable a state as I had anticipated. He had been tried this morning for attempted abduction, and public disruption. The judge trying him was deaf, but he didn't want people to know it. Quasimodo is also deaf, so he was most likely doomed from the beginning. He was sentenced to an hour on the pillory and public flogging, and then another extra hour on the pillory, left to the mercy of the insulting Parisians. The worst thing is that I probably could have helped him. However, I am a man of God and therefore a man of the Law.

He learned his lesson on that pillory...

He learned my lesson on that pillory...

An added indulgence was that I got to see my beloved Esm-- Esmer-- Esmeralda again. She was kind to Quasimodo, and gave him a drink of water after his punishment. It was the most beautifully heartfelt thing I had ever seen anyone do for him. Anyone who wasn't me, of course.

I cannot believe that I am still letting her plague my mind! I want her out of my head. She doesn't belong in there! It should be filled with knowledge, not with love! Love is irrelevant. It is unneccesary. A man such as myself does not require love to survive.

So why can I not stop yearning for it?

March, 1482

Esmeralda does not love me. She does not return the love I feel for her.

I cannot eat. I cannot sleep. I cannot read my books, I cannot study my subjects. I cannot breathe without thinking of her.

And now I've ruined it all.

There was another man. An officer. A Captain of the Guard. Phoebus, I believe his name was. He was a friend of Jehan's and they were on their way to a tavern. I thought it might be beneficial if I followed them, specifically because he mentioned to my brother that he had an appointment at a lodging with a girl, a gypsy girl. I could only assume it to be Esmeralda. So I decided to accompany him.

There is a legend of a Phantom that haunts the streets of Paris dressed like a preist. I figured I could play the part for a period of time. Much to my pleasure, Phoebus seemed to fall for my disguise. He rented a room specifically so I could watch their rendezvous, and he left the lodging to acquire his escort for the evening.

When he returned, he proved my suspicions correct that it was indeed Esmeralda. The two had a very romantic evening... it made my internal organs want to combust.

I could tell Esmeralda really seemed to love Phoebus.

I could tell Phoebus did not really seem to love Esmeralda.

This fact infuriated me. Was she just a conquest to him? Was she not to be appreciated, to be cherished? She was the most beautiful woman in Paris, gypsy or not! And she deserved to be treated with the utmost respect and affection. Phoebus could not even begin to provide that for her. I could. So, I had to devise a rapid plan to get them out of the way.

In my cloak, I concealed a dagger. I assumed that the only way I could rid Esmeralda of Phoebus would be to do away with him, permanently.

So, I crept up behind them from my hiding place, raised the knife above my head, and plunged it into his throat.

Esmeralda screamed, and fainted to the floor.

I didn't know if she saw me, but I knew I didn't have much time. An implication in a homocide would not bode well for the advancement of my career! So, swiftly moving about the lodging, I kissed Esmeralda while she was unable to protest, and jumped out of the window and into the river. My getaway was flawless, as was my plan.

Or so I thought.

I was wrong. I was very, very, wrong.

Esmeralda was the only person found by the other members of the guard at the scene of the crime. So, she was the one arrested for his murder. I can assure you that this was not my intention, for what decent man intends for his love to be condemned?

She was tortured too... Tortured!

All because of me.

I could hear her screaming. I could hear her in pain. It was unbearable.

It was so unbearable that I ripped the dagger through my own chest to deaden the pain. And for a short while, it helped, but it was unable to mask the hurt that I was sure to feel once Fate had snatched her from my grip.

I knew I wouldn't have much longer with Esmeralda, so I went to see her in her prison, cloaked and hooded, so as not to reveal my identity to her so early on, in case she recognized my face. I wanted to build a rapport with her before I unmasked myself. It seemed to be for the best.

I told her the unfortunate truth: that she would be executed the next day. She seemed unhappy, not to be dying, but rather to not be dying sooner. To her, it seemed, a life without her adoring Phoebus was no life at all. Sickening really, but I pressed on.

I offered her freedom, and threw back my hood. The look on her face was one of horror, not of relief. She had indeed recognized me.

She was the vision in my dreams. I was the vision in her nightmares.

Then, she burst into tears, and between sobs, raised her black eyes to me.

"Oh, wretch! Who are you? What have I done to you? Do you hate me so much? Alas! What have you against me?"

To which I could only reply with the words I had been meaning to say since I first laid eyes upon her.

"I love you!" I exclaimed, and fell upon my knees. Her tears ceased and she stared up at me with a vacuous stare. "Do you hear? I love you!" I again exclaimed.

"What love!" she said, shuddering.

"The love of a damned man."

It was the first time I had admitted it aloud. I had barely even admitted it to myself. Such powerful yearning for someone could not result in a paradise afterlife. It could only be repented for in Hell. I was angry. I would have been spitting fire, if such a thing were possible. We sat in silence for a few moments longer, allowing me time to compose myself and continue.

I explained everything to her. I confessed all of my misdeeds, I had professed my undying adoration. All for naught, for she did not love me back. And how could she? How could I ever expect her to love someone such as myself. Alas, I continued on. I spoke of the first time I saw her, and how I would watch her from my window as she danced in the square in front of Notre Dame.

I told her that from the day I saw her, there was another man within me. I had changed drastically, and not for the better. Then, I showed her the product of my pain. The scar I had given myself when she shrieked, a gash like a tiger's claw in my chest.

She did not appreciate the token of my love, she shrank from me. She hid away. She did not love me. She could never love me. So I had to rid myself of her. I had to clear her from my head, from my heart.

I recalled a story. A sorceress once enchanted Bruno d'Ast. He had her burned alive, and was cured. I decided to try this remedy. I would allow her execution to be carried out. I would clear my head of her forever. If I could not be the one to love Esmeralda, no one could.

I will be free of these entanglements. I will be free of this insanity.

I wasn't always such a desperate and tormented soul. I'm not a bad man, I've just begun to do some bad things, as of quite recently.

But this will be the best thing I have ever done.

Claude Frollo

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Juliana H. said...
Aug. 12, 2012 at 8:57 pm
It is so refreshing to read fiction referencing Hugo rather than Disney.  I always had a deep sympathy for Frollo, even as he repeatedly sentenced La Esmeralda to her death.  I think that perhaps you could have elaborated more on Frollos's personal feelings and less on his background, which is already included in the novel.  Otherwise, it is a wonderful piece.  After being reminded by you of how great the book was, I am eager to read it again... and again.
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